Monday, June 11, 2007

Valuation and Comparisons

Property value assessment is a science with a touch of art to it. At least it is when it is done right. Properties are analyzed according to their features and deficiencies, and near peers with few variations are used to generate a reasonably small probable price range from which a central point is chosen as the property's taxable value.

The key to producing useful and accurate assessments are finding the correct comparable houses that have sold recently. If these houses have seven bedrooms and are used to find the value for a house with two bedrooms there is a problem. If the majority of comparable houses are clustered eleven kilometers away, there is a problem. However if the target house has three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms and a quarter acre lot and the five comparable houses are within four blocks, have three bedrooms, between one and two bathrooms and sit on one sixth to one quarter acre lots, the value of the house should be reasonable and accurate.

Valuation and worth are based on the peers and the availability of best alternative choices. This rule applies to houses and it also applies to countries and how they choose to uphold their values.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal's ruling against the Bush Administration's creative and ahistoric doctrine of "enemy combatant" and unitary executive privilege to overrule the Constitution during the amorphously defined war on (some) terror brings the United States into a higher peer group. Under the Bush doctrine, our peers were other states that had no right of review, no rights of habeas corpus, and a pervasive fear of a midnight knock. We also have a peer group that disappears and may torture children and actively seeks to use Stalinist torture and interrogation's techniques to elicit false and useless 'confessions.'

This is the moral, political, and geostratgic black hole that we reside in due to our own making. Other nations are reluctant to aid the United States due to their publics' justifiable opprobrium against our actions and justifications. Our security will be improved if other nations, other organizations and other people believe that they can interact with the United States with a combination of good faith and a reasonably clear conscience. The Fourth Circuit's ruling is one of the many baby steps that we must take in order to remove this wretched stain.

This is a victory for our own moral cohesion and sustainability. It is not a defeat that allows for wily Al-Quaeda operatives who have been embedded in American culture for years or decades to wage 'law-fare.' The best available evidence of a nullset of sophisticated and organized plots carried out by foreign jihadists since 9-11 suggests that these sleeper cells are at best the work of over-active imaginations. Instead the best available evidence strongly suggests that any individual or group of individuals that has decided to take on Al-Quaeda's international franchising identity for actions in the United States have been locally reared AND astonishingly incompetent. These plots (JFK fuel lines, Miami cell against the Sears Tower etc) have been broken by solid and competent police work and the barely organized conspirators have been handled effectively by the American justice system.

We need to face reality instead of the fiction presented by a few too many techno-thrillers and seasons of 24 or Battlestar Galatica. Once we do this, we can draw upon our fundamental toughness and resiliancy to re-affirm our commitment to our founding values while at the same time minimizing the risk of terrorism. I again applaud the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals for their stand for common sense and constitutionalism over hysteria.

No comments: