Infrastructure Week

Delmar Loop Trolley Construction

Otherwise know as orange barrels season. This week, in a breakthrough bipartisan agreement, it appear that Joe Biden will succeed, where the former guy only failed. I guess negotiating and cooperating with people works a lot better than bullying and name-calling them. Go, figure. In his new non-Twitter existence, the former guy issued the following longform “Tweet”:

“Hard to believe our Senate Republicans are dealing with the Radical Left Democrats in making a so-called bipartisan bill on ‘infrastructure,’ with our negotiators headed up by SUPER RINO Mitt Romney,” Trump said in one of his recent statements, functionally a long-form tweet. He added that the legislation “is a loser for the USA, a terrible deal, and makes the Republicans look weak, foolish, and dumb. … Don’t do it Republicans — Patriots will never forget! If this deal happens, lots of primaries will be coming your way!”

I’m not sure when this infrastructure bill will actually pass, because after today, Congress adjourns for its annual August recess. Having lived in DC, I can assure you getting out of town in August is a good thing to do. The same is true for here in Saint Louis. It is supposed to hit a hundred today. Anne is working the polls as an election official this Tuesday. There is only one item on the ballot, a property tax increase proposal for the community colleges. I suspect that she will be getting a lot knitting done, at the taxpayer’s expense.

Anyway, the next day, we’ll be getting the heck out of dodge and heading back north to the cabin again. We’ll be passing through Ann Arbor several times. Once on the way up north, once on the way back south, except then, we’ll take a detour to Boston, for Maren and Dave’s wedding shower. We’re flying and at the time of booking the flights, it seemed like a good idea to fly to and from Detroit. Harry’s move though occurred much more quickly than we had thought that it would. We may be able to stay at his place one more time, on the way up north, but the night before we fly to Boston and the night after we return seem more doubtful. That’s OK. Harry’s new place rents rooms for family visitors, but we might seek other accommodations. I want to see his new digs, but I’m not sure that I want to spend the night there.

Anyway, August, if not the hot weather, should be half over, before we return to town. I hope Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan works out better than Joe Edward’s trolley did. The trolley closed after a year of operation. 

But, I’m Not Rich

A major change in the tax laws, involving estates and inheritances has been recently proposed. I read about it in this Forbes article that was published today. The bottom line of this new proposal is that if passed future heirs would see more of their inheritance disappear to pay taxes, a lot more. These tax changes are proposed to take effect at the end of the year. The article used an example that I’ll paraphrase here. Their example quotes the fictional example of kindly old Aunt Tina. Aunt Tina was a school teacher who lived frugally, but saved and invested well. Even on her teacher’s salary, starting in 1970, she was able to save $200,000 and through the miracle of compound interest over the next fifty years, her investments ballooned to its current total of $2,200,000. A tidy sum, especially for the math that is yet to come. You as Aunt Tina’s favorite nephew/niece are expected to inherit all of it. Under current law, upon her death you would inherit all of it tax free. No inheritance taxes and no capital gains taxes, a cool $2.2M tax free. However, under the new proposed rules, you, Tina’s sole heir, would have to take on or carry over the basis of the decedent. The long and the short of this is that except for the $200K that she originally invested, you the heir, would have to pay capital gains taxes on the remaining $2M, immediately. Plus if this inheritance pushed your adjusted gross income over $1M the Net Investment Income Tax would come into play, for a total tax rate of 43.4%. But wait there is more. In addition to Federal capital gains taxes, there are also state capital gains taxes and at these levels inheritance taxes also kick in. You could be looking at a 61% tax rate. Aunt Tina, please do not panic, yet. This is not yet the law. It is simply a proposal. However, the US is currently running unsustainable deficits and Biden is looking at taxing the rich. When John Dellinger was asked, “Why do you rob banks?” He answered, “Because that is where the money is.”  In addition to vaults, banks also posses an army of lobbyists. Something that Aunt Tina does not have. The next major source for taxes is the top 10% wealthiest Americans, because that is where the money is. Don’t panic! It’s hardly a done deal. It’s only chance of passage would be via a continuing resolution, with all 50 Senate Democrats voting for it, which seems rather doubtful to me at this time. 

Orange Monsters

Orange Barrel Monster

We did it! Made it out to California and back home again, all in one piece. We logged almost 6,000 miles in our new RAV4. It is a 2018, but it still feels new to us. We call it the Nanny Car, because it is always squawking about one thing or another: “That car is too close!”, “Stay in your lane!” and “Lookout for that pedestrian!” You get the idea, but we learned yesterday that it is not only a nanny, but it is also a bit of a tattle-tale. The day after its odometer clocked 15,000 miles, we got a call from the Toyota dealer, asking us when we would like to schedule maintenance appointment. The car had called it in, not content to simply nag us via Nice And Gentle reminders on its display panel, it had to phone it in to the mother ship. 

Pictured is a bit of sculpture that was displayed at the Missouri welcome center, just inside the Oklahoma state line, along I-44. It addition to this orange effigy, this rest stop also sported a wall full of license plates, featuring all fifty states. On this trip, Anne has been playing the license plate game. She has already won one game, scoring three Hawaii’s, including two parked next to each other. She has almost won a second game, missing only a few, small east coast states. I’m looking at you Joe Biden. You need to get more of your home state residents out on the road. I tried to convince Anne to fill out her dance card, using the wall of plates, but she wasn’t having any of it.

In our travels, we certainly saw plenty of road construction. If I had a dollar for every orange barrel I saw, I would be rich, but now that I’m back home, I would like to make a political comment. We have certainly spent plenty of time in Trump country, although, as we were driving into New Mexico, I saw a billboard that announced, “I’m Riding with Biden.” After being booted off both Facebook and Twitter, the Donald attempted to run a blog, but Trump’s blog failed, bigly and in only 29 days. That’s less than three Scaramuccis. Sad. On counterpoint, while traveling, I have successfully logged thirteen years of continuous blogging.

Lawn Art

Lawn Art
On the way to Frank and Kathy’s place, we passed by the pictured front yard, which I first took to be an amusement park, but is in fact someone’s idea of lawn art. Oh, deer! Frank gave us the skinny. At a county supervisor, he knows everyone around and they all know him. Sort of an occupational hazard. So far, on every day Frank has had a meeting. He is in the mist of working out budgets. Even though it is a small rural county, Amador still has an annual budget approaching $100M, of which about a quarter is still discretionary. So, the money is not just chump change and everyone wants a place at the public trough. He even has a meeting today, even on his birthday. Frank first ran for supervisor in 2016 and was elected the following year, after a runoff election. He was re-elected last year, but after this term is done, he is thinking of retiring.
Big Horned Sheep


Black Wall St.

We’re on the road again. Tonight, finds us in Tulsa, OK, heading west to California via Route 66. Today’s ride was a pretty easy six-hour drive. We didn’t have to get up super early, but till arrived by midafternoon. We’re staying the night in the downtown Courtyard by Marriot, a thoroughly modern hotel that is housed in the historic Atlas Life Building. After checking-in, we proceeded to explore. We checked out the nearby Blue Dome district, so named for a distinctive building housed beneath a blue dome. Adjoining downtown proper, it is mainly populated with restaurants and bars. After that we headed on to the Greenwood district, so called Black Wall St. Back in the early part of the 20th-century it was a prosperous and wealthy African-American community, until it was attacked and destroyed by a white mob in 1921. The whereabouts of the bodies of upwards of 300 people are still unknown. Greenwood was completely destroyed in the riot, leaving 10,000 people homeless. Hushed up and swept under the rug for a hundred years the story of this massacre is only now coming to light. A new Black Wall St. History Center is now under construction, but until it opens the pictured mural is probably the best remembrance of the events that occurred back then. Speaking of murals, Tulsa seems to be in love with murals. Many of its red brick buildings are decorated with them. After our walking tour, we hunted up a restaurant for dinner. We found an open-air place called McNellie’s Courtyard. Our first sit-down dinner in a restaurant in as long as I can remember. It was warm, in the mid-eighties, but with a strong breeze and low humidity it was still quite pleasant. I ordered salmon with a side of roasted green beans. Anne ordered a spinach salad with a vinaigrette dressing. We swapped plates halfway through. I also ordered a beer and got to keep the glass as a souvenir. After this sumptuous meal we waddled back to our hotel room for the night, because tomorrow is another day.

Little Blue Heron & Muskrats

Yesterday, we went back to Forest Park to walk again and for the second day in a row we flushed a Little Blue Heron from beneath a bridge, a bridge not far from where we had seen it the day before. This time it only flew a little bit away and I was able to get its picture. Not long afterwards we saw not one, but two muskrats swimming along in the river. First one and then the other, each with a wad of vegetation in its mouth, paddled beneath us as we were standing on the old Victorian wrought iron bridge, a bridge that predates the founding of Forest Park. Just a little bit away from the bridge they each disappeared into a hole in the river bank. I’m guessing that they are mates and that they are building a nest there to raise little muskrats. Call it muskrat love.

The Missouri Republicans have been on full display with their awfulness as of late. Yesterday, Josh Hawley, our junior senator showed how truly awful he really is by being the sole senator to vote against the COVID-19 Hate Crimes bill. I guess he loves hate, Ninety-four senators voted for the bill and only Hawley voted against it. Why he could not have just abstained like the five other senators that didn’t vote for bill is a mystery to me. I guess he wanted to standout. As bad as Hawley is, Missouri might be electing an even worse senator for our other seat in 2022. The current senator, Roy Blunt, has announced his retirement and has set off a race within the GOP to replace him. The lead candidate seems to be Eric Greitens our disgraced former governor who was force out of office by his own party for numerous wrong doings, including allegedly taking pornographic photos of his girl friend while she was tied up, in the basement of his family’s home. Greitens has been busy kissing the trumpster fire ass as of late, so he looks like the lead candidate. But Greitens isn’t the only sweetheart vying for this senate seat. Remember Mark McCloskey, the gun wielding St. Louis attorney who threatened peaceful Black Lives Matter marchers last year? He too is talking about throwing his hat into the ring. What a pair those two make and if one of them gets elected then what a peach of a pair of senators will Missouri then have.