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September 21, 2015


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Thanks for the truth, Rogue. You are a beacon of light in a cesspool of right wing propaganda regarding taxes, regulation and public spending.

My latest visit to sprawl land finds traffic worse than I had anticipated it would become when fleeing in 2009. Numerous productive professionals and prosperous business persons I had known have moved on from Arizona. The remaining possess a weariness and unspoken understanding that the best days are gone with the slope heading down, down,down.

The statistician would call that anecdotal evidence I suppose.

I just listened to Scott Walker's withdrawal speech, "who most of all [wanted] to thank God for his amazing grace...." I'll second that on behalf of a nation hung over with tax cuts for the wealthy and lagging incomes for everyone else.

Walker wants to clear the field to stop Trump, which is doable but pointless for a party without much if any credibility on economic issues. As Paul Krugman keeps pointing out, Trump is actually the one Republican candidate who is right on economics and that taxes on the rich should not be cut. But Trump, even in the unlikely event he were his party's nominee, would be a leader of an anti-empirical cult of government-hating zealots. This cult cannot fail, only be failed. It's bigger than Trump, and its insanity would overwhelm whomever the nominee is.

Arizona, like other states bewitched by voodoo, is a dead-ender, a state with a weak economy to counterpoint its harebrained economic beliefs. You don't argue with these people. They're Rugged Individualists, after all, secure in their identity as conservatives who, for some reason, happen to rely disproportionately on Social Security and Medicare.

The pathetic little story here is that evidence is politically useless in states like Arizona. What is useful is pointing out that illegal aliens have the wrong skin color and speak Spanish. Or that Black Lives Matter activists are terrorists. Until the grim reaper culls the herd of the righteous and white, Arizona is stranded in its own reality - a red "taker" state dependent on the federal government to maintain some semblance of prosperity.

The culling of Arizona's bigoted Anglo herd is necessary to make way for the vibrant but suppressed Hispanic community; it is the only hope for an Arizona revival.

Did Jeb give Scotty a wink for the VP spot? Shame to see him drop out so soon. The laughing stock from the Badger State was hilarious. Who needs a college degree anyway?

The most alarming stat was the increase in snap benefits recently.This corresponds with the reduction in unemployment numbers but unfortunately most of those jobs are so lowly paid that they can still qualify for snap benefits.Meanwhile,corps call for lower taxes and further profits for them while socializing the snap costs.When will we ever learn?

In terms of suggestions for next time, it would be instructive to see the national average included in each of those graphs just for reference. The more data the better, I'd say.

Personally, I don't know if it's fair to measure us against a coastal state with some significant economic advantages due to its location and topography. Not that we'd compare any better against Colorado/Denver but they seem a fairer analog than Seattle/Washington.

Glad to learn that the cost of living doesn't make up the difference.

Here's a fun little tool to mess around with:


You can compare all the ones you'd like, but Phoenix to Seattle would require a 42% (!!!) increase to maintain your standard of living.

I don't know if that takes into account the federal income taxes you'd have to pay on that 42% bump in pay- let's give Seattle the benefit of the doubt and assume it does. If it doesn't, the percentage would jump to about 60%!!!!!

Phoenix to Austin is about a push; Phoenix to Portland requires a 37% lift;

Here's the gold standard data on cost of living:



Your "gold standard" is using 2010 data.

You think that the difference in Phoenix and Seattle housing costs has remained constant since 2010?


Seattle's weekly wages are 63% less than San Jose as of 2Q 2014:


Think there'a a cost of living difference?

Look. Phoenix has it's share of problems. But you're ignoring one it's strengths- a relatively sane cost of living, especially housing.

HUD has one of the most sophisticated understandings of cost of living. Their tool:


Because of Phoenix's dependence on cars, it's less affordable than all of these cities when adding the two largest household expenditures: housing and transportation and comparing that to regional income.

"Red taker state"? With respect to the Highway User Revenue (HURF) Funds, at least, Arizona receives back about 94 cents out of every dollar we pay to the feds in gas tax--despite Soleri's relentless socialist drivel.

"Rugged Individualists" we may be. However the opponents of the recent Prop. 104 transportation initiative in Phoenix both over-emphasized light rail and exaggerated the supposed "tax burden" that will ensue now that the proposition passed. Hence, the vote was--among other things--a vote on the concept of raising taxes to fund public improvements in general and the concept of dramatically expanding light rail service in particular. Still, Prop 104 passed by a comfortable margin even though, in an "off" election year, according to Democratic Phoenix Councilwoman Kate Gallego, more Republicans than Democrats voted.

So, courage at the state level and in the legislature may be in short supply, but the rank and file--Democrats and Republicans--are starting to "get it" and an appropriate reduction in the flow of negative B.S. is in order!

Here’s a link to a per capital, cost adjusted, incomes for metro areas greater than one million.


Even cost-adjusted, Phoenix sucks; 49th out of 52 metros. Only Orlando, Los Vegas, and Riverside-San Bernardino trail.

Note that the top three, San Francisco, Boston and San Joes are high cost areas; but more than overcome this with high incomes. Unfortunately, the rest of Cali is stuck with high costs and average to low incomes; Sacramento(#35), San Diego (#43), Los Angeles (#48) and Riverside-San Bernardino (#52).

Aside from Houston at #7, the sun best numbers no so good. Surprisingly good numbers for cities where you wouldn’t expect it: Hartford (#4), Pittsburg (#6), Cleveland (#8), and St. Louis (#10).

Not too many places going to compare favorably against Seattle (#10) and Denver (#13).

Portland (#39) is poorer than you think; and more blue collar than you might think.

Birmingham, by the way is #22.

New York (#17) and Chicago (#28) and dragged down by masses for really poor people and high costs.

Not everyone is in love with San Francisco:

“I don’t have the temperament to fight City Hall about much of anything. Instead, I tend to shop around for a different City Hall I like better. I look for a warm welcome instead of an argument. San Francisco is a fantastic place to live. But it’s already way past the point where it makes any sense to try and live here if you aren’t already grandfathered in or relatively wealthy. And the city is becoming just that much less interesting and stifled over time as the cost of living continues to rise. A better life can be found elsewhere in other cities that give people what they want at a price that makes sense without all the prissy fuss and legislation about who’s entitled to what.” From:


Another rave review of Cincinnati, my ideal of low rise density


Phoenix is cheap for the same reason virtually every red-state city is cheap. It's not highly valued (a tautology that serves either as a self-evident explanation or a self-fulfilling prophecy). Accordingly, the city self-selects for citizens who prefer freeways to mass transit, big-box stores to sophisticated shopping districts, monster-truck rallies to art galleries, anonymous housing pods to authentic neighborhoods, and socioeconomic segregation to diversity.

There's nothing wrong with any of this. Red states love themselves some Jesus, Ayn Rand, and Sam Walton. But if their ideal of civilization requires a big house and an empty head, you begin to see the problem. Arizona, for example, has one of the planet's most glorious topographies yet its citizens seem to think trashing this extraordinary eden is justifiable if it makes some greedheads even richer (see: Fountain Hills). I remember this problem when I was young and first began to get a sense of the bad bargain Arizona was settling for. The state is/was a treasure but how do you get people to see it if they don't care? Arizona is mostly blind to the paradise it was, and now it's too late.

Republicans rule Arizona for a reason. They have no taste, no sensitivity, and no ability to learn. But their children do, which is why the most creative ones leave Arizona. I've seen this go on for the past 30 years and now it's merely a rite of passage. Arizona has doubled down on dumb and it's not going to stop now.

Well Bob it was a great Arizona summer. Not the hottest I have enjoyed in the last 75 years. And the return of some real old time Monsoon storms. But on the Negative side, the Canadians and the US flock of soil bankers and snow birds are starting to reappear in the what's left of the great Sonoran Desert. By 15 October I will be back to grocery shopping at midnite. But it will be good for the fools that chase thier little White balls around un-natural grass lawns.

Phx Planner

The housing data on the link you posted is from 2010.

Some newer data would be helpful.

The housing costs also include only the current (2010) costs incurred by owners/ renters, it does not include current fair market values:

"Housing costs reflect spending by current residents, not current market value."

I have no idea how the transportation costs are calculated or what prices were used for gas. I know insurance is high in Arizona. Recent decreases in the cost of gas would tend (I think) to help Phoenix relative to cities that are less car dependent.

I think it also ignores the marginal income and payroll taxes paid by a Seattle resident who earns $ 67,437 compared to a Phoenix resident who earns $ 54,022.

Even using the outdated data, ignoring fair market values,and not understanding how the transportation costs are calculated, and ignoring marginal income and payroll taxes, a Seattle resident spends 46% of their income on housing and transportation compared to 51% in Phoenix.

What about everything else?


Rob Bohannan, Arizona is a net "taker" state. That means it gets more back from the federal government than it sends to Washington. The gas tax is a fairly modest part of that equation.

Why does this matter? Well, red states tend to tax themselves less to meet the needs of its citizens. It means that wages tend to be lower and income inequality is higher. It becomes necessary for other states to make up the difference in the form of transfer payments and safety-net programs like SNAP.

In the aftermath of the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression, Arizona stayed above water with federal money from SS and Medicare, along with federal jobs in the military not to mention lucrative defense contracts. What seems SOCIALIST!!! to you about moi is actually much more true about Arizona. Best of all, you don't even have to pay for it. Other states make up the difference. Call it what you will, Republicans seem to have found the magic hammock it imagines others are sleeping in.


1. How does the Atlantic article (and the data it links) account for retirees? Are their social security benefits included in the federal revenue numbers (your comment implies that they are)and if so, would than tend to make states with more retirees appear more "dependent"? Even though they earned those retirement benefits?

2. What about border enforcement? Would that tend to distort border states for a responsibility that clearly rests with the federal government?

3. What about Indian reservations? Do the numbers include amounts paid to reservations for land or mineral rights or other services? Do they include the massive settlements made to tribes for the BIA fiasco?

4. Would states with large swatches of federally administered land (or parks) not eligible for development tend to appear more dependent?


Click on the first report- the international housing affordability summary.

Find pages 41-43 of the pdf. 3Q 2014 data

Phoenix- house cost $200,500, median income 52,900, Ratio is 3.8 to 1.

Portland- house cost is $291,300, median income is $60,300, ratio is 4.83

Denver-house cost is $315,500, median income is $64,000 ratio is 4.9

Seattle- House cost is $ 359,900, median income is $ 68,800, ratio is 5.23 to 1.

Excludes the annual, recurring property taxes on those houses (guess where those will be higher) and the additional federal taxes due on those higher incomes.

INPHX - I don't know the tax burden differences between Phoenix and peer cities. If you have a study that looks at total taxes, including sales, property, income, special assessments, utility fees, etc. across cities, I would be interested.

The point I am making is that transportation costs are much higher in Phoenix than peer cities. And transportation costs are the second largest expenditure behind housing.

Housing is cheap in Phoenix for a number of reasons. The city as a whole is less desirable, the neighborhoods themselves are less desirable, and people are poorer so the ability to pay is less.

Vehicle prices, on the other hand, are less elastic and are not significantly cheaper in Phoenix. And, people need more vehicles in Phoenix compared to peer cities. Like housing, it's the cost of purchasing a vehicle (and replacement vehicles over time due to more usage), not operating costs like insurance or fuel, that is the main expenditure.

Put simply, Phoenix requires residents to purchase what is essential a very expensive mobility prosthetic device in order to live a reasonable quality of life. And, their ability to pay for them is less because they are poorer. Those factors make Phoenix a more expensive place to live than many peer cities.

INPHX, I'm assuming those transfer payments are accounted for in the data. And while they "earned" those benefits (except Medicare, which they underpaid because health-care inflation outstripped its funding over time), they show how interdependent the national economy is. Arizona could afford to cut its own burden precisely because other more productive - and highly taxed citizens - were making up the difference.

Does Border Patrol benefit Arizona economically? Probably. More than Fort Huachuca? No.

States with large indigene populations would receive more federal money, true. And states with large federally-owned land would probably - just guessing here - show some gains as well. Still, I think in terms of the overall economy, what is most germane is the overall amount of federal money coming back to states that are often the most hostile to that same entity. South Carolina, in particular, stands out, both currently and historically.

Each state has its various explanation why they tend to either overpay or underpay when it comes to federal revenues. What stands out, however, is how weighted to underpaying Red States are, and conversely, how Blue States tend to overpay. And how Blue States have higher income levels overall.

I think this suggests something that is utterly at odds with your economic dogma, namely that low taxes create a favorable economic terrain that shows up in higher incomes, etc. But Blue states show greater economic complexity and productivity and it shows up in the higher taxes they pay. The irony is that the Blue States are behaving like Scandanavia and Germany while the Red States are behaving, dare I say, like Greece.

Modern first-world economies are highly regulated and highly taxed. The American right wing lives in a fantasy that it can have a first-world lifestyle with Somalia's tax system. It can't, of course. But it can conveniently disguise that fact by depending on other states to make up the difference at the federal level. It's the only explanation how wingnut welfare works as well as it does.

Well, there's little doubt that Blue States have higher income levels, and so they automatically pay more in federal income taxes, even at a "given" standard of living.

In other words, most likely, the median income earner in Seattle pays more in income and FICA taxes than the median earner in Arizona, even if their lifestyle is comparable.

Phx planner:

It's not the overall tax burden that's meaningful; it's simply the marginal federal income and FICA taxes on those marginal wages that further favor the low cost area.

In the numbers I cited, Seattle's resident earns about $13,000 more than the Phoenix resident. But it's a pretty good bet that about 25% of that difference will get chewed up in FICA (6.2%), Medicare (1.45%), Income (15%) and state (4%) income taxes.

Some posts are going to spam, no fault of yours. I am pulling them out ASAP

"The Advent of Agriculture was the beginning of the decline of man" J. Diamond

The Advent of statistics was the beginning of Liars.
Let the number wars rage on but in the end the only numbers that will be important is how many goats U own.

FICA is a steady-state tax so there is no diff until you go over the maximum withdrawal (that is to say the percentage remains the same and then can go down for high earners). Same for Medicare although I don't think there is a cap.

Federal Income Tax may or may not go down depending on the size of the bracket.

Washington does not have a state income tax.

INPHX - this started with your assertion that Phoenix's "strength" is a low cost of living. So why wouldn't total tax burden be more relevant?

Phoenix average or median housing prices are misleading because so many of the lower end houses are dumps in marginal, unsafe neighborhoods. The less expensive housing in Portland and Seattle are far more livable than the low end housing in Phoenix. In livable areas of Phoenix the housing prices much exceed the overall median prices of Seattle or Portland.


Maybe it is; I will assure you that property taxes on a median home in Phoenix are less than property taxes on a median home in Portland or Seattle. And they go on forever.

Let me go over it again. When I worked for a large CPA firm, I knew someone who did work for the executives of large, multinational corporations. When these executives were transferred to higher cost locales, their compensation would have to be increased to even out the cost of living differences and then GROSSED UP TO REFLECT THE TAXES THAT WOULD HAVE TO BE PAID ON THAT INCREASE.


When you look at the bankrate calculator I linked, it says that you need $71K in Seattle to equate to $50K in Phoenix. But in order to generate that additional $21K in cash, you need to make about 25% more than the $21K because you have to pay federal income, FICA, and Medicare taxes on that increase. Probably.

I'm lost in all these numbers. But i live in Arizona as I love the summers in the Sonoran Desert. Cost wise my space rent is $210 per month and that includes electric, water and garbage. And to get down the road I drive to the book store in a Honda Fit. And if U would like to visit I have a great cot on the front porch where U can enjoy my floral and cactus garden and the lizards, the rabbits, the Javelinas and the sounds of coyotes on the hunt.
And for you white ball chasers there is a sand only golf course.

Forgot to state that i do spend about $120 a year on propane (Late November, December, January and early February). I do have Solar ( and i dont pay APS a penalty fee) backup for lighting and batteries. And besides the sand golf course there is a pool, spa, (open 24-7), a libary, free TV, a pool table and of course shuffle board. All this at a great price on the edge of the Great Sonoran Desert. What's left of it.

What is the name and location where you rent space?

Cal lives in the east valley at the corner of Telephone and Telephone.

Does that joke still work if there are no telephone booths?

In Phoenix: Give it up; no matter how you look at the situation in Phoenix sucks. I posted earlier, but somehow went to spam. RC reposted it, but with time stamp of original- so it was way up the stack and probably missed. I’m reposting a portion of it:

Here’s a link to a per capital, cost adjusted, incomes for metro areas greater than one million.


Even cost-adjusted, Phoenix sucks; 49th out of 52 metros. Only Orlando, Los Vegas, and Riverside-San Bernardino trail.

Note that the top three, San Francisco, Boston and San Joes are high cost areas; but more than overcome this with high incomes.

Unfortunately, the rest of Cali is stuck with high costs and average to low incomes; Sacramento(#35), San Diego (#43), Los Angeles (#48) and Riverside-San Bernardino (#52).

Aside from Houston at #7, the sun belt numbers not so good. Surprisingly good numbers for cities where you wouldn’t expect it: Hartford (#4), Pittsburg (#6), Cleveland (#8), and St. Louis (#10).

Not too many places going to compare favorably against Seattle (#10) and Denver (#13).

Portland (#39) is poorer that you think; and more blue collar too.

Birmingham, by the way is #22.

If this thread goes cold, I will opine on some ideas to alleviate the situation.

I saw a public telephone today outside of a Circle K on 52nd Street and Thomas. Wow..I wonder if it still works.


In Heber, AZ the telephone booths where Travis Walton was dropped off by the aliens who abducted him are still there. People travel from all over the world to have their photo taken by the phone booths. I live 25 miles from where he was abducted. If they abducted me, I would go willingly since I ASSUME they have the technology to fix bad backs. In exchange for that I would give up all your sorry asses for their intergalactic slave trade. Sorry, but business is business.

Cold hearted Ruben.

The mountains in Northern Arizona are spooked. I had a couple of weird experiences driving through the mountains at night over the decades.

The phone booth to call Superman is actually on 48th Street and Thomas.

Bad backs are the worst. The fear of being rear-ended in the dangerous Phoenix traffic is one of several reasons I will no longer reside in sprawl land.

Changing into my Weakman suit behind a Palm tree is a risky proposition. but when you are a antihero U gotta do what U gotta.

Ruben can U gives a Chart on the racial breakdown of Alien galactic kidnapping of earthlings for slave trading?
And do the kidnapping sites appear to be in rural areas dominated by White myth belivers?

Cal, that's propietary information. I already offered you to " them". They asked about your condition and if you were still under warranty. I told them I would have to get back to them on that.

Here's good news. INPHX, feast your eyes.

Idea #0: I’m not a big fan of Eds and Meds as an economic strategy. Obviously you need enough to satisfy regional demand. But this is a zero sum game; it just moves money from one pocket to another. It’s not all bad; ASU has 10,000 international students, so it is net addition (?) to the economy. For meds need to develop specialties that people will fly in from around to world to access. An example would be Birmingham’s Andrews Clinic (which is almost a factory). If you’re a big-time athlete (or have tons of money) and a joint problem – Dr. Andrews is the go-to guy. For Phoenix, geriatric medicine would seem to be a natural. I think ASU should be a lot more selective that it is; the acceptance rate is 85%. Apparently if you have a pulse and checkbook, you’re good to go. On the bio-sciences front, Phoenix is starting from too deep a hole. Further, this is a me-too strategy; everyone is on this bus. Ditto (generalized) high tech.

seems as if WKGINBHAM is on to something here?

Idea #1: All things solar; this would also address the urban heating effect. You’re stuck with incoming light energy from the sun. There are two things you can do to cope with it: (1) reflect it back into space as visible light or (2) use it in some way so as to offset imported energy in other forms: e.g. gasoline, natural gas, electricity, etc. All of which become heat sooner or later.

So many of the lower end houses are dumps in marginal unsafe neighborhoods, therefore Phoenix average or median housing prices are misleading. In livable areas of Phoenix, the housing prices much exceed the overall median prices of Seattle or Portland.

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