Thursday, January 11, 2007

Why Use a Flyswatter When You Can Use a Nuke?

Thanks to way-cool Matt Stillman for a heads up on some lawmakers up in Vermont who know the power of government and they are WAY ready to use it!

A new state law being proposed - but not yet introduced by Rep. Tony Klein - would impose a $1,000 per square foot "surcharge" for new home construction over 4,000 square feet. Another bill proposed will add a tax, OOPS no, a "fee" of 1% of the price of the house (Construction price? Sales price? The language doesn't say).

To quote the article from the Barre Times Argus

"The concept is to put in place incentives for building well-insulated buildings for homes and businesses," [Senator Lyons] Lyons said. "This kind of policy is the kind of policy I think we will be talking about over the next couple of years."Both bills, if made into law, would regulate the connection to the energy grid each new home needs, unless it relies entirely on its own power sources, such as wind or solar power.

In the immortal words of Casey Stengel "Now Wait a Minute."

First off, I (mis)spent some winters in Chester Depot and in the proud old, Yankee farmhouse of 1,500 square feet you couldn't keep a candle lit because of the draft. How come they don't have to pay for energy-efficiency?

Second, I guarantee that the opportunities for graft will abound. If, as the legislators complain, these are houses built by rich out-of-staters, then imagine a bond trader from Manhattan laying out a couple of hundred bucks to persuade the building inspector to certify that the new Schloss is in fact 3,999 square feet.

Third, if a tax on the biggest homes happens, SOMEone will wonder why we don't put a "fee" on simply bigger homes. I can hear it now: "3,000 square feet? The greedy bastards!"

Fourth, a change in tax policy, rather than command-and-control from the state will help all homes be more affordable and energy-efficient, old or new, native or carpetbagger. Untax all buildings, tax the land instead. Better use of land is an inevitable result, with more compact housing, and an incentive to put in the features everyone wants, not just the holidaying rich people.

Fifth, I'd lose my membership in the Irony Union, if I didn't tell you that both of
the legislative sponsors aren't from Vermont, but were born in New York State.

Friends, it's a solution looking for a problem. Out.

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