Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Expressway Authority Considering Rate Hikes

I’m continually astonished by how ignorant of remedial economic concepts like supply and demand our local government seems to be. As people’s budgets tighten in these economic times and we find ways to spend less and more wisely for things like entertainment and travel, the consistent mantra of public service providers has been “raise prices”. It’s as if they have no awareness of why people are scaling back on activities in the first place (here’s a hint: they have less money.)

First downtown parking rates increased (thanks to the Orlando City Council’s vote) and now the Expressway Authority is considering a hike of their own. I think the toll road increase is even more aggravating, because they at least partially understand the economics of the issue. They cite “11 months of dwindling ridership” as the reason for revenues being down. What do they think will happen as a result of increased costs of using the roads? If you guessed further decreases in ridership, then YOU are more qualified than everyone on the Expressway Authority.

Every day I face a choice of either taking traditional roads such as highway 50 or state road 436 to get where I am going for free, or jump on the 417 or 408 and save myself somewhere between 10-20 minutes. Under the proposed rates the routes I would usually take that comes out to $3 one way, so each day I would be spending $6, or $30 per week, or $120 per month. Currently that same activity costs me $90 per month. I make that decision to save that 20 minutes about 50% of the time (just mornings), because $90 a month is pretty steep, so say I am worth $45 per month to them. Let’s say that instead of raising everything a quarter, you actually lower the 2 plazas I hit by 25 cents each (keeping the off ramps at 25 cents). Now 100% ridership for me only costs $70, or I am contributing $35 per month at my usual 50%. Say because of the lower prices I decide to take the toll roads just one more day per week than I used to. Now I am spending $49 per month instead of $45. That’s how it works guys, lower prices, keep tolls out from under my personal budget cutting pen, and actually pick up a little extra revenue in the process. People do it everyday selling stuff like cereal and beans, why can’t we put at least as much brain power into transportation issues?

At $120 a month, I will just set my alarm 20 minutes earlier and spend nothing on tolls anymore. How many more people are going to do the same?

SeaWorld Orlando to Increase Prices in 2009

SeaWorld Orlando will be raising ticket prices another $5 to $74.95 effective January 5th. In 2007 they raised prices in July and again in November. These prices held steady throughout the 2008 year. This price puts SeaWorld just 5 cents under a one-day one-park Disney or Universal Studios ticket who both raised their prices to $75 this past August.

For my family, the ability to convert your SeaWorld ticket into a year long pass for a little bit more still makes the price worthwhile for us, but we live here and can easily get the value out of that deal. I assume the bean counters at these organizations have run the numbers, but I would be curious to see how close the profit margin difference was for actually lowering prices to increase demand against this hike that may deter some locals. I think that’s where these price fluctuations have the biggest impact.

A family traveling here is not going to derail their plans for an extra $20 for the whole family. However, if you live here you may rethink that visit to the parks and go do something else more cost effective in the area. If you kid has a hankering to see sea life there’s a lot cheaper and even free ways to see a stingray, manatee or dolphin, that’s for sure. Add to that the hospitality house going the way of the do-do (I still think this is an unconfirmed rumor) and the “free beer” incentive is taken out of the value added column as well.

What do you think? Will these price increases keep you or any out of town relatives from checking out SeaWorld, or any other parks?

Florida Politicians and State Employees Rip Us Off

I have just read something that leaves me speechless. Okay, that’s not true because I’m about to launch into what will likely be a very wordy and spirited ripping, but it did leave me speechless for a moment. If you haven’t heard, thousands of Florida politicians are making use of loop holes to essentially “double-dip” and simultaneously pull a salary AND retirement check. Yeah, that’s right, BOTH. How do they do this? Well, apparently after getting re-elected they can turn in their resignation and start their retirement benefits. Because they are retiring from their current unfinished term, it does not affect their eligibility for the upcoming term for which they were just elected. I guess in the system it’s considered like two separate jobs. I still don’t see how that even works, it doesn’t work like that in the private sector.

The bottom line is the state currently is dishing out $300 million dollars in retirement benefits to people who are still employed by the state and pulling a paycheck. This includes 211 elected officials (they thank you for your votes), 203 senior managers and more than 7,763 state employees. 300 million dollars. That’s 300… Million… Dollars.

Here we are discussing cutting back jobs for teachers, nixing after school sports and field trips, paying for 911 service calls, and who knows what next. Families are losing their jobs, going into foreclosure, facing dire economic times. And these people are robbing the state coffers of $300 millions dollars annually? This is probably the most outrageous thing I have heard in a long long time. This makes the Illinois Governor trying to turn a buck on an empty Senate seat look like a minor infraction.

Every paper should publish the list of these names and we should be picketing these people’s houses. According to the article, it is legal. This does not mean we have to stand by and be silent about the blatant unethical nature of it all. This loop hole should be closed and those who took advantage of it should be outed.

WaMu Bankrupt and Bought Out

So those who have bank accounts with Washington Mutual – aka “WaMu” – woke up this morning to find out their bank had gone under and was bought up by JPMorgan Chase for $1.9 billion.

Holy cow right??

Reportedly JPMorgan Chase won’t close many Florida branches because they view us as a growth market, but accounts will be transitioned over to the new ownership, which means in coming months, customers can expect everything to be rebranded and most likely anyone with an ATM, debit or credit card issued by WaMu will be issued a new card during the process. But for now, the new owners say everything from account numbers to customer access to their accounts will remain the same.

Thankfully I don’t have an account with them, but I can’t imagine a scarier feeling than to wake up and find your bank isn’t your bank anymore. If you have a WaMu account, what are your feelings on this sudden change?

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