Something to be said for an income that’s ‘fixed’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 8, 2004

Several News-Herald editorial page contributors – Robert Pocklington, Roger Leonard and William Harward – have been devoting much of their space in recent weeks to railing against Suffolk’s high real estate assessments and the need for a tax reduction to offset the assessments.

They all make compelling arguments for the absurdity at which the assessments have gone up and with no City Council-sponsored relief in the form of a tax reduction, those on fixed incomes are seeing an ever-larger portion of their fixed incomes being eaten away.

While I can certainly understand their arguments and agree with them in principle, it’s difficult for me to get as riled as they seem to be.

Email newsletter signup

As Pocklington pointed out recently, I don’t see the taxes being taken out. My home is not paid for. I make monthly mortgage payments which have the tax payment rolled into them.

So while I understand their arguments, perhaps that is why I have difficulty sympathizing with them.

I, and most others of my age group trying to make a life in Hampton Roads, struggle each month to make ridiculously high mortgage payments that are artificially inflated by supply being controlled and interest rates that are held in check by a Federal Reserve that cares about nobody except the banking industry. The prime function of the Fed is to make sure that the banks are not paid loans back with money that is worth less than what it was when they loaned it out. They do not care about anything else.

In short, somebody whose home is paid for and who bought it years ago for $25,000 to $50,000 is looking in the wrong place for a sympathetic ear. Young people now in Suffolk have to fork over 10 times that amount for a decent home and average wages have not gone up 10 times over that period. We, unfortunately, are not likely to ever see real estate taxes in the same context as my friends mentioned above because we will likely never have these homes paid for.

As for fixed incomes, people working today – those having to pay off the huge mortgages – live day to day not knowing whether we will have any income at all. Companies are sending the jobs overseas and reaping the benefits of corporate welfare. Our 401ks are looted by bandit CEOs, so there’s not even a guarantee that what we save will be there if we are lucky enough to make that far. For many of us, a &uot;fixed&uot; income doesn’t sound too bad. It sure beats no income.

High real estate assessment and the associate taxes are but one of many serious economic failings. I agree with Pocklington, Leonard and Harward in that it is time to fire up the torches and demand change, but the problem goes far beyond Market Street. It’s in Richmond and Washington, D.C. We need representation at all levels of government that is attuned to the challenges we face – seniors, the young and the middle aged. We’re all in the same boat, and it’s a boat that’s filling with water.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611, or via e-mail at