Monday, October 22, 2007

Letters, We Get Letters

I want to thank everyone that's emailed since yesterday, and I apologize for not replying to every message individually. There was a consistent number of questions in most of them and I thought it would save time answering them all at once.

The most prominent was "Are you sick again?" Physically, not at all. Now that I'm actually taking the time to sleep, instead of zooming around for twenty hours a day, my health couldn't be better., not so much. I'm not suffering from anything pathological, but, and I hope you'll pardon my frankness, the constant stream of bullshit that issues forth from our politicians just wore me down.

I think the real breaking point was the Mitch Ford situation. The only thing I found more infuriating than his blatantly racist attitudes was the collective shrug it seemed to generate in the local media and the population as a whole. I've grown to accept a certain amount of casual racism- when you're as lily white as I am and your significant other is as black as coal you get used to it- but the in-your-face arrogance of reducing another human being to subhuman status with the epithet "nigger" is simply unforgivable. In most of this country that incident would have been a major scandal. Here, it was a blip.

That, needless to say, did not inspire a great deal of happiness in our household. After that it became increasingly clear this just wasn't a place we wanted to live anymore.

The other big question was "Why Texas?" Two of our closest friends moved there last year. Since then they've been engaging in a steady campaign of propaganda to convince us to join them and it finally took hold.

From a tax standpoint Texas looks like paradise, at least when compared to New York. There's no state income tax, the combined state and local sales taxes are equal to or lower than anywhere in New York, and local property taxes are quite a bit less in relation to the elevated real estate prices.

Secondary costs are also significantly smaller. Electricity and energy? 60% of New York's bloated rates. Housing? Significantly higher prices, but it's a market, unlike New York, where people actually want to live, producing a natural market pressure for increased values. Water and sewage? Comparable to New York's despite our much-vaunted natural water supply. Health insurance? Significantly less than New York thanks to a state government that isn't completely beholden to health care unionistas.

Ultimately, our decision came down to quality of life and in that respect the Austin area just blows away anywhere in New York except for Manhattan. The city is home to a thriving arts community, including an amazingly productive crop of filmmakers. The weather is..well..perfect. The schools, while costing significantly less than the ineffective warehouses we have in New York, actually produce students with an education.

Two other factors also weighed heavily in our decision. First, a politician in Texas that calls a black candidate a nigger has effectively ended their career. That's a nice change of pace from Oneida County. Second, fireworks are legal. If you want a handy guide to how valuable the concept of personal freedom is to a state government there is no more telling barometer than their fireworks laws.