Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Recent Decline in Gas Prices

     What caused the recent decline in gas prices and is that good or bad for the economy? A Reddit reader asked the question, "Why is the recent drop in gas prices a bad indicator for the overall economy?" The top answer chosen stated,
     "It's because oil prices are a fairly good indicator for how well people think the economy is doing. The central idea is that everyone, and every business uses some form oil to conduct operations. As such, higher oil prices tend to reflect an increase in business activity and lower prices reflect a slow down. Now the tricky part is that the oil price you see on TV is actually the price a few months down the road. The oil price displayed on the news is what's know as an oil future, basically someone is buying a contract to receive oil a few months from now at whatever the price is expected/predicted to be. Overall gas prices themselves don't necessarily have a large impact on the economy, but the economy has a large impact on gas prices, that's why so many people look to it in order to gauge economic performance."
In reply to that,
     "There is no "speculation" on why the prices are going down. We know why they are falling. Saudi Arabia increased production to drive down the price to stave off viability Oil Shale. They are protecting their place in the market. Oil Shale cost more to use so the higher the price the more viable it is. If the prices are to low then it is not worth mining. My speculation is that this will have a positive effect on the US economy. People will have more to spend at X-Mas and travel more."
In reply to that,
"A couple of problems with this:
1) You mean shale oil, not oil shale. Unfortunately they are very different things. Oil shale is a rock that contains organic matter but hasn't turned to oil yet, and nobody has figured out how to make oil out of it cheaply. Shale oil, or more generally tight oil, is oil that is hard to get flowing to the well but is otherwise fine. The recent boom in the US is all about tight oil.
2) Saudi Arabian production is the proximate cause of falling oil prices, but as for the Saudi motivation, it's not so clear. For example, it's quite possible that the US asked Saudi Arabia to produce more in order to hurt the Russians, who rely on oil exports. Putting some tight oil producers out of business could just be a bonus.
I agree with you on the economic impact. Energy prices have been central to the economic story of the past decade, and this is the best news in a while."
In reply to that,
"Saudi Arabia did not increase production - a false assertion made throughout this thread. They're simply not paring back production as they normally would because no matter how much they pare it back, the price will not be propped. Normally this isn't a problem, but many oil (opec) nations build the price of oil into their budgets and so falling oil prices means they need to pump MORE oil - not less- to balance the budget. This increases supply, and harms cooperation in the cartel."
And finally,
"In the last few weeks, the US overtook Saudi Arabia in oil production."
     The fracking boom, shale oil, cheap coal, cheap natural gas and Canadian Tar Sands are all factors in the price of gas at the pump and are also related to Fairhope and its community.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fairhope Film Festival Nov. 6-9

View the list of this year's films here.
Buy tickets here.
Volunteer here.

From FFF's website:

     The Fairhope Film Festival is a film lover’s film festival, offering participants the opportunity to see world-class award winning films in a unique, picturesque location over a four-day period. The focus is on national and international film festival competition finalists of the past year: the “best of the best” in cinema arts. Notable foreign and feature films, documentaries and shorts—many that never made it to the big box theaters or were only there briefly–will be selected for appreciative audiences. Although the festival will pull out all the stops, Southern-style, to host opening and closing events and parties, the emphasis will be on the art of filmmaking and the experience of seeing exceptional films. Directors, actors and screenwriters will participate in the screenings both in person and via live electronic transmission.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Single Tax Colony Meeting for September

     September 10th's meeting started as usual at 6:30pm in the Fairhope Single Tax Colony Library. During the member and lessee portion, one lessee stood and affirmed his preference for land value taxation and questioned why his membership application was denied without a reason given and asked for support from everyone in achieving membership. Pres. Turner continued the meeting without comment at which point an audience spoke and asked for a response which Turner denied. 
     The audience member continued and noted he, along with all other nonmembers, was asked to leave the previous meeting after member/lessee concerns and that he thought this was inappropriate. He stated he had taken the advertised class for membership and in one of the course materials given, Fairhope 1894-1954, on page 96 read: 
"Be it resolved further, that public notice is hereby given that the regular meetings of the council are open to the public, and at such meetings all reasonable suggestions and requests from anyone interested in the public administration of Fairhope will be welcomed and considered by the council."                                   (Minutes, January 18, 1904)
      Director Carol Saltz and Trustee George Gilmore said the creation of the City of Fairhope in 1908 changed this policy. The audience member asked where in writing it changed at which point Pres. Turner said he would be happy to have lunch with the participant the next day to talk about these issues. The audience member said he couldn't understand the resistance to the meetings being public considering how much land is involved and how much the City is involved to which Turner replied, "It's a business, a meeting by members of the business". Pres. Turner then asked Trustee Gilmore to research when the "open to the public" policy changed and all nonmembers then left the meeting.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fairhope Single Tax Calculator

     Calculating the Demonstration fee and taxes due for Fairhope Single Tax Corporation property can be confusing and time consuming. The Fairhope Courier has developed this interactive calculator to determine the total cost of taxes and fees for Colony property.
     Edit the amounts in blue to match Baldwin County property tax records and the total will be automatically calculated. Double click on the values to edit. 
     Here is a link to search Baldwin County tax records to collect the information needed. Be sure to use "appraised" and not "assessed" value for the land only and to enter the name in this format: "FST Last name, First name". At the bottom of the tax page is a link that says, "View Appraisal Record", this is where the property tax is split into "Land" and "Improvements". Be sure to only use the appraised land value to achieve the correct results.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fairhope Single Tax Colony August Meeting

     The August meeting of the Fairhope Single Tax Colony was brought to session promptly at 6:30pm by President Turner. The member and lessee portion of the meeting had a few speakers mainly concerning prior actions taken by the board and the rejection of three lessees for membership. The Colony does not maintain a set criteria for acceptance and the lessees were not given a reason they were denied. The Colony allows 20 people per year to take the class to make them eligible for membership. At the current rate, it would take about 160 years for the 3,200 lessees to become members. 
     Director Jester spoke about the editorializing of minutes produced by Secretary Stejskal. He researched past minutes and stated the secretary has power to edit the minutes but not the ability to interject personal preferences. He noted the struggle to get by-laws passed and mentioned the Colony is currently being sued for the expulsion of members. The agenda listed attorney fees paid for services rendered for removal of the three members totaling about $8,200. This does not include the current lawsuit, only counsel during the revocation of membership.
     At this point, President Turner stated the member/lessee portion was over and it was time to enter the business portion and required all non-members to leave the meeting. All non-members then left the meeting and assembled outside to discuss the happenings of the meeting. The rejected applicants questioned why they were denied and made assumptions about the possible reasoning. Those lessees and other interested parties conversed for about an hour and then left, vowing to return again next month.
The 2014 membership class begins September 2 at 7:30pm.
The next Colony meeting is September 10, at 6:30pm.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Fairhope Single Tax Colony Meeting for July

     The Fairhope Single Tax Colony meeting for July was called to order promptly at 6:30pm by President Lee Turner. After the Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance, Pres. Turner asked if there were any member/lessee concerns at which point a lessee inquired about treasury reports. The lessee asked if there were any financial reports and if the lessees were privy to them. Treasurer Colin Keleher noted there were monthly, as well as annual, treasury reports available at the front desk for anyone interested in viewing them. The lessee asked for the lessees to be notified of this. 
     After a bit of confusion about who would speak next, Dean Mosher was chosen as there were nonmembers present who wanted to hear his presentation. Those nonmembers would not be allowed to hear the presentation of Thomas Hospital associates nor the computer company presentation about file scanning and storage which would be heard during the "Business" portion of the meeting and therefore no nonmembers would be allowed to attend despite laws to the contrary (Section 10A-20-9.05).
     Dean Mosher came before the board and membership with a question and to share some history of the organization. "The question I have for you is a Georgist question." he said after telling a brief history of the past 30 years of the Colony during which he has been very involved. He continued, "Under any kind of Georgist system, how can we justify taking 70% of the leasehold value, in condemnation, that they have created?... Because I would like you to rethink that position."
     After Mr. Mosher spoke, another member of the audience voiced his concern on the conflict of interest rising from President Turner's position with the Colony and his position as chairman of the city's planning commission. The audience member referenced specific cases, properties and events that were in conflict with Colony and City ordinances. Secretary Leslie Stejskal stated there wasn't a conflict of interest. All nonmembers then left the meeting as required by the board.

Mr. Mosher's full presentation can be heard here.