A Parable From A Century Ago

I moved to Hoboken in 1985. Although I recently moved out this blog is primarily my take on local Hoboken politics.

I recently renewed my membership in the Hoboken Historical Museum. When doing so you are entitled to a book up to $20 offered by the museum. This year I chose “Elizabeth Street” authored by Hoboken native Laurie Fabiano and published by Fig Books which was recommended to me by my friend Melissa Abernathy. The book is based on a true story involving her 4 year old grandmother being kidnapped by the “Black Hand” Italian mob gang over a century ago. While still in Italy she speaks of a reason why so many emigrated. The new unity government imposed high taxes and in the once prosperous community jobs disappeared.

The passage on pages13 and 14 are quite interesting: “The other villains were not as dramatic or forthright as cholera; they were more insidious and masked. Since the government started taxing goats, the mountain peasants had to reduce their herds. Soon there wasn't enough milk and cheese to trade, and they had to reduce the herds further. For a while they ate a lot of goat meat. Now there was no milk, cheese, and no goats. Now they taxed mules, so farmers had to plow the lands themselves. One year the crops were eaten by parasites and next they died of drought. When there wasn't enough food from the farms and people were forced to grow what they could in their yards, they taxed the gardens. Only the padroni, the large landowners who were mainly foreigners or northerners, had farms and animals anymore. The goat herders and the farmers were reduced to serfdom on the manors of the padroni.

When the people rebelled with sticks, the northern police mowed them down with guns. The only option for many men was to become a brigand. First the sons and then sometimes the fathers left for the mountains to make their living robbing rich landowners and travelers who traversed the region's few roads. In the dead of night, they would scramble down the cliff paths to leave money or food with their families, never staying more than minutes. When they stopped coming in dead of night their families knew that the police had killed them.”

With the jobs disappearing those who did not want to become robbers emigrated en masse to America. With very few men available many women followed suit. The town was eventually destroyed by a tsunami. This is exactly what Ronald Reagan predicted when he said "people will vote with their feet".

In Britain taxes were raised on millionaires. The former 16,000 have dwindled to 6,000 as the millionaires fled to lower tax havens. In France a top rate of 75% was placed on the same group. Immediately 30% of them put their homes up for sale in order to move mostly to Belgium where taxes were more reasonable. The famous French actor Gerard Depardieu is now one of 50% (according to my cousin who works in France) who have or will use their feet to avoid repressive taxes. In both cases by raising taxes the countries will collect fewer revenue than before.

In America Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin renounced his citizenship. President Obama is correct that if taxes return to Clinton era levels it would only affect 2-3% of small businesses. What he doesn't tell you is they are typically the larger companies who provided 50% of the job growth under Obama's term.

Where were most jobs created? 70% of new jobs were created under states with Republican governors. 72% of jobs were created in right to work states with Michigan recently joining that group. States like NJ with both legislative houses controlled by Democrats generally underperformed those that had at least one house in Republican control.

Which state in America has the lowest unemployment? The answer is North Dakota where most land with natural resources is under state or local control. Good paying middle class and professional jobs are there for the taking. Which states have underperformed the greatest? New York, California and Illinois. Here 8 1/2 of the 9 state levels are controlled by Democrats (the NY Senate operates on a rotating basis. None of these states are right to work and all three (NJ included) has the taxpayer unfriendly Bacon-Davis laws which greatly increase the cost of infrastructure projects.

Luckily for Hoboken taxpayers under Kids First and Mayor Zimmer's reform majority overall taxes have been reduced for 3 consecutive budget cycles. I wish that other Democrats would learn from Mayor Zimmer but it doesn't seem likely.

Note: I apologize for the email glitch which inadvertently sent out the top portion of this post incorrectly.

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recallbethmason December 19, 2012 at 12:40 PM
C'mon Scott, how about just sticking to local politics and Beth mason's ineptitude. Also your examples our out of whack with the facts. Taxes will mostly just return to what they were under the Clinton administration which you might remember was a great time for our economy (budget surplus, strong economic growth). In fact the government debt had been reduced so much that there was talk the 30 yr treasury bond might become extinct. Lets be honest, we are currently in this bad fiscal situation because we should not have spent so much money in Iraq and Afghanistan while at the same time decreasing taxes. George bush jr was not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed when it came to math. In regard to the Republican Party, they have no chance of having a majority in the northeast as long as they continue to associate with radicals like the tea party (who have no common sense) and the NRA. Enough said.
CuriousGal December 19, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Scott M. Siegel December 20, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Bush added $5 trillion in debt over 8 years or an average of $625 billion including 2 wars. Obama in just 4 years has created $6 trillion or an average of $1.5 trillion. In the past century taxes were cut in the 1920's (the "Roaring Twenties), by JFK's economic boom until Johnson's Vietnam, Reagan (double of revenues) and by Bush who inherited Clinton's tech bubble and 9/11. Despite this tax revenue hit an all time high in 2007, before the Democratic inspired housing bust. Clinton did raise income taxes but the only reason why it didn't hurt growth is the end of the Cold War which allowed him to dramatically (but wrongly) to slash military spending. He did however cut capital gains taxes and with the fake tech boom treasury receipts came pouring in.. Spending was only dramatically reduced one time in the past century, after WWII. Liberal economists were predicting dire consequences but the economy actually prospered. CG I saw you link to Reuters, what were you trying to point out?
Scott M. Siegel December 20, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Also the first and only US President to graduate with a MBA was George W. Bush who graduated from Harvard Business School, the same school my brother graduated from. I asked him if there was 1 non bright student at Harvard BS and he laughed in my face. Perhaps the reason that President Obama has spent over $3 million to seal his college transcripts says something about him.
Fire Carmelo Garcia December 21, 2012 at 03:37 AM
cmon scott...your disappointing me. :-) you know that obama inherited george jr's mess. look lets just say i know more about bush jr's reduction of taxes than the average person. i have watched people who have millions of dollars, grow their money tremendously since the tax cuts because they are only paying taxes at 15% while you and I probably paying closer to 28-33%. it is not exactly a fair system where the rich get richer and everyone else continues to pay in a significant % of their income. I am sorry but I respect many of your writings in the past about the city council as they have been on target but I think you missed the big picture here..
Scott M. Siegel December 21, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Almost every president inherits something, it's the way you react to it that matters. Republican Coolidge inherited massive debt and a post WWI recession from Democrat Wilson. When disasters struck he put Hoover in charge of raising private funds like the benefit concerts we see today, Treasury Secretary Mellon cut taxes to 10%. Revenue soared and we got the roaring twenties. Both Hoover and Roosevelt both tried to spend their way out the stock market crash. Roosevelt also increased taxes to 90% and tried a larger scale Obama like stimulus. We got the Great Depression. Post WWII the economy slowed. Working with Truman a Republican Congress slashed spending and the economy recovered. Eisenhower ran fairly non deficit budgets and the economy prospered.
Scott M. Siegel December 21, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Nixon inherited Johnson's Vietnam (guns and butter) and thoughtfully wound it down. Carter inherited a high inflation, slow growth environment and spent like crazy. Unemployment and inflation only worsened. Reagan was handed a mess far worse than Obama- 15% mortgages, 12% unemployment and double digit inflation. He cut taxes to 28% and rebuilt the military (which led to the end of the more expensive Cold War). Revenue doubled and at this time in the Obama Presidency 500,000 jobs per month was the norm. Clinton inherited the end of the Cold War and a false tech boom. He did raise taxes but cut capital gains. With NASDAQ at 5000 capital gain revenue came pouring in. A Republican Congress enforced fiscal responsibility. Bush Inherited the tech bubble (from October) and then 9/11. Not once did he blame Clinton. He was a man who dealt with cards he had. 71 Senators voted to lower taxes. Revenue hit an all time high in 2007 until the housing bust occurred.
recallbethmason December 22, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Scott, Well i have to give you credit for all of the specific detail. I did not know many of the things you mentioned. But honestly there is no way you can tell me that George bush jr had a brain? Seriously I am reminded of Tim o when I think of George jr...completely clueless.
Scott M. Siegel December 23, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Let's see. At YALE he got exactly the same grades as his classmate as our soon to be next cerebral Secretary of State John Kerry. They both averaged a B-. As stated earlier Bush is the only President in the entire history of America to attain an MBA. From the crummy school known as Harvard. I didn't have the grades or test scores to get into either of these prestigious schools. Are you calling me dumb? I somehow doubt that Tim went to either institution.
scottmovedout December 24, 2012 at 08:54 AM
Scott Please revise your "about me". You moved here in 1985, and you moved out in 2012 to go live in the basement of your moms house in another city. How's that going anyway?
Scott M. Siegel December 24, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Grafix Avenger December 24, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Oh please, Scott. This thread deserves a lump of coal. http://harpers.org/blog/2008/04/worst-president-ever/ But, as George Mason University’s History News Network reports, the historians have a different measure. They want to stack him up against his forty-two predecessors as the nation’s chief executive. Among historians, there is no doubt into which echelon he falls–his competitors are Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, and Franklin Pierce, the worst of the presidential worst. But does Bush actually come in dead last? Yes. History News Network’s poll of 109 historians found that 61 percent of them rank Bush as “worst ever” among U.S. presidents. Bush’s key competition comes from Buchanan, apparently, and a further 2 percent of the sample puts Bush right behind Buchanan as runner-up for “worst ever.” 96 percent of the respondents place the Bush presidency in the bottom tier of American presidencies. And was his presidency (it’s a bit wishful to speak of his presidency in the past tense–after all there are several more months left to go) a success or failure? On that score the numbers are still more resounding: 98 percent label it a “failure.”
Grafix Avenger December 24, 2012 at 09:36 PM
http://harpers.org/blog/2008/04/worst-president-ever/ This marks a dramatic deterioration for Bush. Previously he wasn’t viewed in the most positive terms, but there was a consensus that he wasn’t the “worst of the worst” either. That was in the spring of 2004. In the meantime, Bush has established himself as the torture president, the basis for his invasion of Iraq has been exposed as a fraud, the Iraq War itself has gone disastrously, the nation’s network of alliances has faded, and the economy has gone into a tailspin–not to mention the bungled handling of relief for victims of hurricane Katrina. In 2004, only 12 percent of historians were ready to place Bush dead last. Here are some of the comments that the historians furnished: “No individual president can compare to the second Bush,” wrote one. “Glib, contemptuous, ignorant, incurious, a dupe of anyone who humors his deluded belief in his heroic self, he has bankrupted the country with his disastrous war and his tax breaks for the rich, trampled on the Bill of Rights, appointed foxes in every henhouse, compounded the terrorist threat, turned a blind eye to torture and corruption and a looming ecological disaster, and squandered the rest of the world’s goodwill. In short, no other president’s faults have had so deleterious an effect on not only the country but the world at large.”
Grafix Avenger December 24, 2012 at 09:37 PM
http://harpers.org/blog/2008/04/worst-president-ever/ “With his unprovoked and disastrous war of aggression in Iraq and his monstrous deficits, Bush has set this country on a course that will take decades to correct,” said another historian. “When future historians look back to identify the moment at which the United States began to lose its position of world leadership, they will point—rightly—to the Bush presidency. Thanks to his policies, it is now easy to see America losing out to its competitors in any number of areas: China is rapidly becoming the manufacturing powerhouse of the next century, India the high tech and services leader, and Europe the region with the best quality of life.”
mcgato December 25, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Finally reading the comments, I am pretty sure that Scott is the guy that I was arguing with on H411 leading into the 08 presidential election regarding the Bush tax cuts for the rich. I still disagree with him, assuming it is the same guy. Posted: Dec 25 at 6:01 pm
Scott M. Siegel December 26, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Oh yes the tax cuts for the "rich". In fact $85 billion went to the the top 2%, while $375 billion goes to the bottom 98%. The Dems have lied to the American public on this for 10 years. Show me a presidential poll 20-30 years after someone serves. 1 in 6 Americans are now in poverty (highest since '65), 32% increase in welfare, record 50% increase in food stamps, lowest labor participation rate since Carter, 23-25 million American unemployed or underemployed. These are all record or near record stats. It's easy to create jobs. Reagan cut taxes, loopholes and regulations and instead of 100,000-140,000 jobs per month he was creating an average of 500,000. Our debt is exploding faster than any other administration and seems no have no signs of abating.
Scott M. Siegel December 26, 2012 at 06:43 PM
My favorite Christmas parable is the Good Samaritan. Once ancient Israel was a prosperous nation. The Jerusalem Palm was the best source of oil, small scale farmers and herders fed the nation and tithed 1/7 of their produce to create a safety net for the poor. Then came the Romans who exacted high taxes and expropriation of industry. Soon the farmers and herders lost the crops and animals as in the parable above. Unemployment, poverty and starvation raged. People were forced to become "brigands" and robbed people like Good Samaritan. The safety net was torn asunder.
Scott M. Siegel December 26, 2012 at 09:30 PM
You know GA we'd probably have the same conversation in 1932. "Roosevelt has been President for 4 years and we are still in the the depression, must be Hoover's fault". Or in 1936: Roosevelt has been President for 8 years and we are still in the depression, must still be Hoover's fault." Or it could be a 90% tax rate and increased regulations, or for example the "butcher tax" that decimated the NYC butcher industry. Reagan inherited a much worse mess than Obama, but didn't whine or blame Carter (or the Arab Spring, tsunami. Europe, etc., he simply rolled his sleeves up and created millions of jobs and finished off the Cold War and the Soviet Union. Obama has been president for 4 years and we have the most tepid recovery since WWII. It doesn't matter if we go off the cliff or Obama gets his massive tax rise, with 20 new Obamacare taxes and 6,000 new regulations coming, we are either going to slow down to a crawl or go into recession. When will you Dems take responsibility for Obama's polices instead of keep blaming someone who is no longer President?
mcgato December 27, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Yup, same guy. We agree on Hoboken corruption. We do not agree on federal taxation. Posted: Dec 26 at 7:02 pm
Scott M. Siegel December 27, 2012 at 11:39 PM
There are 22 states with all 3 branches controlled by Republicans. The average unemployment rate is 6.82% (US BLS source, includes DC). There are 7 states with at least 2 branches controlled by Republicans. The average rate is 6.11%. There are 4 states with Republican Governors and the legislature is controlled by Democrats. The average rate is 8.45%. There are 2 states with one house under Republican control. The average rate is 6.9%. 2 States have a tie or an Independent with 2 out 3 in Democratic control. The average rate is 9.35%. There are 15 states in Democratic control. The avg rate there is 7.33%. In Republican states with at least 2 out 3 (30), the rate is 6.65%. In states with at least 2 out 3 Democrats (21) the avg rate is 7.65%.
Scott M. Siegel December 29, 2012 at 08:20 PM
French Supreme Ct rejects 75% tax!: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/29/us-france-tax-idUSBRE8BS05M20121229
Scott M. Siegel January 02, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Taxes to rise for 77% of US households: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-01/senate-passed-deal-means-higher-tax-on-77-of-households.html $41 dollars in taxes for every $1 in cuts: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/12/31/Fiscal-cliff-deal-41-1-in-tax-increases-to-spending-cuts-ratio Taxes to raised by $60 billion a year. Cost of Sandy: $60 billion, add $20-25 billion in unemployment extensions etc, and the deficit will continue to rise and stay at over $1 trillion per year according to the CBO: http://money.cnn.com/2013/01/01/news/economy/fiscal-cliff-deal-cbo/index.html?iid=s_mpm Welcome to the United States of Greece!
Scott M. Siegel January 02, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Moody's set to downgrade US debt after budget deal, analyst estimates a job loss of 600,000: http://www.foxbusiness.com/government/2013/01/02/moody-more-needs-to-be-done-to-protect-pristine-us-rating/
Scott M. Siegel January 04, 2013 at 07:21 PM
The War on The Middle Class is underway! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2256972/Middle-earners-hit-hardest-revealed-workers-making-30-000-bigger-hit-earning-500-000-new-fiscal-deal.html
Scott M. Siegel January 05, 2013 at 05:02 PM
Cash for clunkers failed: http://news.yahoo.com/why-cash-clunkers-hurt-environment-more-helped-024848694.html
Scott M. Siegel January 06, 2013 at 08:13 PM
Remember the Health Care debate? If we give away free contraception, disallow preexisting conditions, eliminate age band gender differences the cost curve wil be bent down? Well look at the facts: NY Times: Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers. In California, Aetna is proposing rate increases of as much as 22 percent, Anthem Blue Cross 26 percent and Blue Shield of California 20 percent for some of those policy holders, according to the insurers’ filings with the state for 2013. These rate requests are all the more striking after a 39 percent rise sought by Anthem Blue Cross in 2010 helped give impetus to the law, known as the Affordable Care Act, which was passed the same year and will not be fully in effect until 2014.


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