Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A columnist in one of our local newspapers recently asked why there is so much anger in the people of our community. He mentioned runaway housing development and related problems such as increased street traffic (we have no public bus or rail transportation); increasing property taxes; increasing homeowner insurance costs; increasing fuel costs; and, now, mortgage foreclosures. Many of these problems can be found elsewhere in the country. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the current political season are also factors.

The development issue has been controversial for many years. People move here to get away from crowded areas to the south of us as well as many retirees come to get out of the colder climate up north. Some if not most of these folks get here and don't want others crowding in around them to diminish what they came here for. To hear some of our citizens you would think our traffic problems were as bad as those one typically encounters around major cities like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. Our traffic problems are actually a cake walk by comparison.

Property taxes shot up during the rapid rise in real estate values in 2005 and kept on going despite the equally sudden fall in those values that has followed. Attempts are being made to adjust taxes downward, but so far with very little noticeable movement. Instead local government agencies keep talking about the services they will have to cut if funding reductions are made. We know there is fat that can be removed from every government known to mankind without jeopardizing needed services.

Property insurance is in a terrible state here due to the devastating hurricanes of 2004 and 2005. Many small businesses are going "naked" (self-insured) either because they can't get the insurance they need, or the premiums are too high if they do find someone willing to provide coverage.

We've talked about fuel costs before so there is very little to add here except to note that businesses are having to pass on such rising costs in the prices asked for their products and services.

The home mortgage situation is hurting a lot of first- time home buyers while at the same time there is a growing surplus of both used and new homes on the market. Developers and independent contractors and their workers are suffering losses in income. In this area, residential asking prices are down 15%-20% from their peak in 2005. This is just one more anger factor.

The war in Iraq and Afghanistan continues, adding more fuel to the cauldron of anger. On the one hand are those who say we should pull out of the conflict now; on the other are those who say we should stay there until conditions are normalized. In my opinion, the latter are correct. They see the reality that if we abandon Iraq, for example, we lose the Mideast and its resources along with Israel. The Islamic extremists will lose any fear of us and a darkness greater than the Dark Ages will come down on us all.

It is evident that there are many reasons why so many people are caught in the grip of anger today. The fact remains, however, that anger is counter-productive in our relations with others. Anger bars the way to understanding and clear communication.