Posts Tagged ‘new york’
Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on May 8th, 2013
I have repeatedly griped about the huge (un-constitutional)disparity in the way real estate taxes are assessed in New York: the range is often so large between very simlar properties that it would be laughable if it were not that sad. The system is driven politically, and this same reckless abuse of the taxpayer and consumer is now being fully revealed by a study conducted into the costs of health care.
In Saint Augustine, Fla., one hospital billed nearly $40,000 to remove a gallbladder, while one in Orange Park, Fla., charged $91,000. In one hospital in Dallas, the average bill for treating simple pneumonia was $14,610, while another charged over $38,000.
Data being released for the first time by the government shows that hospitals charge Medicare wildly differing amounts — sometimes 10 to 20 times what Medicare typically reimburses — for the same procedure, raising questions about how hospitals determine prices and why they differ so widely. The data for 3,300 hospitals, released by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, shows wide variations not only regionally but among hospitals in the same area or city.
Government officials said that some of the variation might reflect the fact that some patients were sicker or required longer hospitalization. Nonetheless, the data is likely to intensify a long debate over the methods that hospitals use to determine their charges.
Medicare does not actually pay the amount a hospital charges but instead uses a system of standardized payments to reimburse hospitals for treating specific conditions. Private insurers do not pay the full charge either, but negotiate payments with hospitals for specific treatments. Since many patients are covered by Medicare or have private insurance, they are not directly affected by what hospitals charge.
Bankers are held accountable for their fee abuses, and they have to disclose their fees CLEARLY…..why aren’t hospitals and doctors held to the same standard? Why is it that one of the single largest expenses to the consumer is so grossly unregulated? For our economy to truly flourish, we should all understand that extreme health care costs are a form of taxation on the consumer and corporations that slows growth and job creation. Entitlement costs are bankrupting states who …..here are some facts to ponder:
***According to the World Health Organization, the United States spent more on health care per capita ($7,146), and more on health care as percentage of its GDP (15.2%), than any other nation in 2008. ***The Commonwealth Fund ranked the United States last in the quality of health care among similar countries, and notes U.S. care costs the most. ***A 2001 study in five states found that medical debt contributed to 46.2% of all personal bankruptcies and in 2007, 62.1% of filers for bankruptcies claimed high medical expenses. Since then, health costs and the numbers of uninsured and underinsured have increased. *** A 2013 study found that about 25% of all senior citizens declare bankruptcy due to medical expenses. ***It is estimated that a 1% increase in the unemployment rate would increase Medicaid and SCHIP enrollment by 1 million, and increase the number uninsured by 1.1 million. State spending on Medicaid and SCHIP would increase by $1.4 billion (total spending on these programs would increase by $3.4 billion). This increased spending would occur at the same time state government revenues were declining. ***The healthcare industry — including HMOs, health professionals, hospitals and nursing homes, and pharmaceuticals — contributed $825 million to candidates for federal office from 1990-2008. ***The healthcare industry spent $3.4 billion to lobby the federal government on health policy matters from 1998-2008, including $480 million in 2008 alone. ***Annual contributions from the healthcare industry increased sevenfold from $21.9 million in 1990 to nearly $150 million in 2008, placing it in the top three contributing industries to Congress and the President. ***In nine out of ten election cycles from 1990-2008, the healthcare industry directed the majority of its campaign contributions to the political party in power. ***Republicans received 57% of total healthcare industry contributions while Democrats received 43% of industry contributions from 1990-2008. ***The top twenty recipients of healthcare industry contributions from 1990-2008 included an equal number of Democrats and Republicans.
We are all being robbed, and no-one is doing anything about it: will this newly revealed awareness change anything?
Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on February 19th, 2013
PERRY STREET, the ultra-cool, chic + sleek, Thomas Juul Hansen-designed West Village Jean Georges restaurant, re-opened tonight after undergoing extensive renovations and repairs as a result of SANDY, the hurricane that caused flooding in lower Manhattan in late 2012. The place looked exceptional and the food was pitch-perfect. The crowd was as good as it gets full of locals and New York regulars who have established a special bond with this landmark located in the middle Richard Meier designed tower that set the tone for the West Village real estate renaissance.
Monday, February 4th, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on January 4th, 2013
While we tend to complain about the quality of air in New York, many things are being done that are truly effective in reducing harmful emissions. Aside from the electric hybrid busses, converting building boilers away from that black smoke belching oil, hybrid government vehicles, etc some buildings such as 150 CHARLES STREET are installing filtered fresh air systems that distribute clean air throughout the building thereby vastly improving the quality of life of its inhabitants.
Our gasoline is also refined differently to omit many toxins, and cars in the USA are equipped with catalytic converters that reduce omissions. Natural gas is helping reduce our reliance on oil. Solar and wind help too. My point is, much of this awareness is spurred by government policy and regulation. And while it would be lovely if industry did not need government to become more socially responsible, a quick peek at Beijing should answer why: China’s extreme growth and greed for profit has produced dangerous air quality. Many sources contribute to air pollution levels that hit records in January, but analysts say the oil companies’ foot-dragging and disregard of environmental regulations underscore a critical challenge facing a toothless environment ministry in its mission to curb air pollution.
With widespread and rising public anger changing the political calculus, it also poses a broader question of whether the incoming administration led by Communist Party chief Xi Jinping will stand up to powerful vested interests in a country where state-owned enterprises have long trumped certain ministries in the quest for economic growth at all costs. Delays in implementing stricter emission standards are rooted in money — chiefly, who should pay for the price of refining cleaner fuels? By some estimates, auto emissions contribute as much as a quarter of the most dangerous particles in Beijing’s air.
So while government is best at wasting money, it also has its uses. They become especially beneficial to society if industry and government work in harmony. If profit kills, its not good profit. If the pursuit of profit now produces untold health costs later, surely that profit is stupid and short sighted?
Friday, February 1st, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on February 1st, 2013
A Water main has burst at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway in front of EATALY and Madison Square Park. There is no N, R, or Q subway service at this time between Whitehall Street station and 57th Street station, at Seventh Avenue. The 36 inch main broke around 10 a.m. at 23rd and Broadway and is impacting subway service at the 23rd Street station.
The MTA says R trains are running on the F line between the 36th Street station in Queens and the 34th Street-Herald Square station, then run on the D line in both directions between the 34th Street-Herald Square station and the DeKalb Avenue station. The break has caused extensive flooding in the area and traffic is a MESS. Water supply has also been cut off to a large chunk of Downtown New York.
Is global warming to blame? The New York Metro area has seen a wild swing of temperatures over the last few days with highs yesterday at around 60 degrees and dropping near freezing over the last 24-hours. There is no word if the weather played any role in the break but we should remember how old Manhattans infrastructure is before we blame global warming for all disasters!
Monday, December 17th, 2012
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on December 17th, 2012
The Republicans have agreed to raising the tax rates on the rich at last…..the real rich: those earning $ 1million and more per year. At last the definition of wealthy has shifted from a stupid version to a more realistic one. Which idiotic politician truly believed that earning $ 200k per year in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago, Boston, or a whole host of cities where the cost of living was so significantly higher than anywhere else in the USA was rich?
Now the Republicans have to acknowledge PART TWO of this inconvenient equation: simply raising tax rates will not make the system equitable at all. I know people who earn $ 1 million per year who pay almost TRIPLE the taxes of those who earn the exact same. That is unfair and should be considered un-American. Are we not equal in the eyes of our constitution? While I don’t think merely raising taxes on the rich is the ultimate solution, I do believe those who do earn a million or more will not cut their spending by much because of another $ 30,000.00 in taxes. It will cut savings though, but this could be off-set by an improved economy quite easily. It also may be a good idea that while raising the taxes on the real rich, they consider a contractual time-line…….so that these raises are not permanent, but tied to performance. Isn’t this what the politicians and masses are expecting of Wall Street? Once these tax raises have achieved the desired effect they should expire surely?
Raising taxes on those earning $ 1million or more per year will not impact the New York luxury real estate market negatively, if this is part of a FISCAL CLIFF deal that addresses spending in an aggressive, yet intelligent way: a good deal will spur the economy and markets and easily compensate for the loss in net income. A good deal will be focused on JOB CREATION: this is the ultimate cure for the ailing economy: once there are fewer citizens draining government tax dollars, earning an income of their own and spending/consuming we will be well on the road to a strong recovery. But only then.
Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on November 27th, 2012
Warren Buffet has said what we have been YELLING in a recent New York Times editorial: Income of $ 250,000/year is NOT rich. Not in New York, or Los Angeles, or Miami, or San Francisco, or a host of other larger US cities. His piece addresses brilliantly the hard facts about taxation and solutions that simply make sense to get us back on track:
- The FORBES 400, the wealthiest individuals in America, hit a new group record for wealth this year: $1.7 trillion, more than five times the $300 billion total in 1992.
- In 1992, the tax paid by the 400 highest incomes in the United States averaged 26.4 percent of adjusted gross income. In 2009, the most recent year reported, the rate was 19.9 percent.
- The group’s average income in 2009 was $202 million — thats a “wage” of $97,000 per hour, based on a 40-hour workweek.
- More than a quarter of these ultrawealthy paid less than 15% of their take in combined federal income and payroll taxes. Half of them paid less than 20%. And a few paid ZERO.
- Buffet prefers a cutoff point somewhat above $250,000 — maybe $500,000. And additionally Congress should enact a minimum tax on high incomes around 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that. A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultrarich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours. Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.
- Buffet says we need to get rid of arrangements like “carried interest” that enable income from labor to be magically converted into capital gains. He is sickened that a Cayman Islands mail drop can be central to tax maneuvering by wealthy individuals and corporations.
- More importantly we can’t let those who want to protect the ultra-privileged get away with insisting that we do nothing until we can do everything. Our government’s goal should be to bring in revenues of 18.5 percent of G.D.P. and spend about 21 percent of G.D.P. — levels that have been attained over extended periods in the past and can clearly be reached again: this ratio of revenue to spending will keep America’s debt stable in relation to the country’s economic output.
- In the last fiscal year, we were far away from this fiscal balance — bringing in 15.5 percent of G.D.P. in revenue and spending 22.4 percent. Correcting our course will require major concessions by both Republicans and Democrats.
All of America is waiting for Congress to offer a realistic and concrete plan for getting back to this fiscally sound path. Nothing less is acceptable. Entitlements need to be adjusted to more realistic expectations. Budgets need to be cut aggresively without damaging the welfare of the most needy. Billions of dollars of waste has to be fought with the same gusto that we fight other wars. We need to become energy self-sufficient. We need to incentivize companies to keep money in the USA, and return the 2+ trillion dollars that have managed to escape our US economy.
No, I am not one to fight the wealthy at all: I am a true capitalist at heart. But dirty capitalism is where a select few benefit at the expense of others, and I do not subscribe to that. I think that is un-American. Why should a salaried person earning $ 1 million pay double the taxes of another person earning the same?
Surely this prudent, smart, practical Buffet-style policy will produce a robust economy, rampant growth, and ample opportunity to lower taxes in the future?
Saturday, November 17th, 2012
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on November 17th, 2012
While Europe is faltering, Germany is one of the few countries rising above the growing tide of failure. One example of their success is their ability to invest into the future. Some estimate that Germany will produce close to 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2050: Twenty-five percent of Germany’s electricity now comes from solar, wind and biomass. A third of the world’s installed solar capacity is found in Germany, a nation that gets roughly the same amount of sunlight as Alaska. More importantly, 65 percent of the country’s total renewable power capacity is owned by individuals, cooperatives and communities, leaving Germany’s once all-powerful utilities with just a sliver (6.5 percent) of this burgeoning sector.
So why does New York not follow this example? Install (in mass) solar panels, solar glass, windmills, geo-thermal systems……the works……privately funded……to become the first energy self-sufficient city run on clean energy? Maybe then LIPA and Coned won’t need reprimanding for poor service when the next storm blows through?
Sunday, November 11th, 2012
Posted on November 10th, 2012 by Leonard Steinberg
In all the discussions about THE FISCAL CLIFF both parties are revealing to the world just how incompetent (and corrupt?)they really are when it comes to identifying what ‘rich’ is. Both are behaving in a discriminatory fashion that is pretty astounding. I know I keep repeating myself when I say this, but when Obama claims that ALL Americans EVERYWHERE who earn more than $ 250k are equally rich, I have to wonder about his brain capacity or worse, his intentions. If earning $ 250k per year in New York is viewed the same as earning $ 250k in Tulsa (without any adjustment for cost-of-living), then I am afraid we have not all been created equally in the eyes of this President. Surely if affirmative action was designed to help those disadvantaged by a system based on race, the same should be true for cost of living?
Just in case Obamanomics does not understand this simple economic fact, or chooses to ignore it, here are the FACTS about the difference in the cost of living as provided by BANKRATE.com:
||New York-White Plains-Wayne NY-NJ Metro Div. – New York (Manhattan) NY
||Tulsa OK Metro
|Payment + Interest
|Half Gal. Milk
The reality is, housing is a massive percentage of all American’s cost of living. Ignoring this fact is outrageous and discriminatory. So if the average home in Manhattan costs 6x more than in Tulsa, surely President Obama should acknowledge this somewhere in the new tax legislation?
And just when you thought I was done with my rant, lets cross over to the other side of the aisle where BOEHNOMICS imagines all wealthy paying the same taxes. Really? Why does he not address the fact that someone who earns $ 1million per year in salary often pays double and tripe the taxes that someone self-employed? Why are the Republicans ignoring (or choosing to ignore) this?
Both parties need to remember that not all Americans are idiots and that by enacting laws that discriminate and ignore facts, they are both opening up the door widely for a THIRD PARTY to enter this system and throw both of them out of office. PLEASE Mayor Bloomberg, be the voice of reason here and help us form a third party to either remove the idiots or encourage them through political force to act more responsibly.
And in case anyone reading this thinks I am whining on behalf of the rich, they are simply wrong: I believe a combination of tax increases and spending cuts AND efficiency implementation (has either side mentioned this little inconvenient fact?)are critical to correct our debt crisis. Doing so intelligently and with the fairness ALL Americans are entitled to is what I am yelling about.
Saturday, September 22nd, 2012
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on September 22nd, 2012
Is BRICFLATION upon us? In this morning’s Financial Times a story addresses a potential pricing bubble in the Central London new construction real estate market, where it was identified that just under 20% of the buyers are UK citizens and the majority buyer pool are foreign, mostly from the far east. With growth slowing in these countries, is there a pricing bubble at play?
New York has been aflutter with talk of ‘all the foreign buyers’, and indeed they have become a sizeable force: Are they artificially boosting pricing here too? What is the percentage of foreign buyers? 5%? 10%, 25%? Data is showing that the vast majority of buyers are indeed domestic, although at many of the brand new buildings (and there are not that many……yet) a good chunk of the buyers have indeed come from BRIC countries. Is this demand pushing pricing up beyond reality? New York pricing is still comparatively cheap next to London. In Miami a huge pool of foreign buyers has helped a recovery, especially in prime new buildings.
Only time will tell in Manhattan how much of the coming construction boom will be bought up by local or foreign buyers: And will BRICFLATION be a concern in the coming months and years. One 57 certainly has a large chunk of foreign buyers, but that is a mere sliver of the market…..when those units close in 2013, watch out for those prices boosting averages artificially for sure.
Friday, May 25th, 2012
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on May 24th, 2012
DIA is about to launch an important new arts building in West Chelsea on West 22nd Street: Dia just bought the former Alcamo Marble building at 541 West 22nd Street in Chelsea for $11.5 million. That building sits between its former space at No. 545, and its existing six-story building at No. 535. With this additional site Dia can build a substantial 22,000-square-foot Manhattan home. In 2004 Dia closed its two Chelsea galleries (its main operations were across the street at 548 West 22nd Street), saying it had outgrown the buildings. Dia rented one of them to the Pace Gallery with a lease that ends in June.
Dia has chosen Roger Duffy, a partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, to be the architect: The new Dia will include 15,670 square feet of gallery space and 3,625 square feet of rooftop for outdoor exhibitions like Dan Graham’s “Rooftop Urban Park Project,” a 1991 architectural pavilion fashioned from two-way mirrored glass that was originally installed on the roof of No. 548.
Plans call for creating a single building with a masonry-and-glass facade along the north side of West 22nd Street. It will consist of the one-story structure at what is now No. 545; a three-story building that will be erected on the site of the marble works at No. 541, and the ground floor of No. 535. (The other 5 floors of that building will be used for administrative offices or leased to commercial galleries.)
Another significant cultural addition to the West Chelsea Art scene, and an important indicator that the art scene is here to stay.