Monday, April 26, 2010

For All Indians currently residing in the US...

Please consider this a serious word of caution. A lot of Indians, including us, currently reside in the United States. We, of course, are here legally, either studying or working with a valid visa (including a green card), or are in the status of a dependant of a valid visa holder. A few of us (like the children of my friends) are even American citizens by birth or naturalization.

Some of us speak English fluently, some haltingly; some speak it with a heavy Indian accent, some with no accent, and some with an American accent. Almost all of us pay their annual Federal, State and City taxes, and all of us are contributing to the society and economy of this country in some way or other. We have friends and families here, and are busy in building our lives and careers.

Doesn't matter. All that matters is that we all have skins of various shades of brown. And it has just started mattering a whole lot in the State of Arizona.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Johns Hopkins as a cash cow for Baltimore?

Curious opinion piece in the Baltimore Sun today, titled: "Tax-exempt Hopkins must help balance city budget", by one Jay Hancock.

The piece is confusing, to say the least. Hancock opines that Hopkins and its non-profit affiliates should pay Baltimore city, seemingly indicating that the city should regard Hopkins as a cash cow, milking it for revenue as much as it can. He takes the examples of the relationships between Cambridge and Harvard/MIT, and New Haven and Yale. But are the economics, demographics, management and administration of Cambridge, MA, and New Haven, CT, comparable to those of Baltimore, MD?

Later Hancock acknowledges Hopkins' immense contribution to the city in form of many thousands of jobs, millions in research grants that faculty at Hopkins bring, and millions in revenue spent on services and products, as well as the provision of top-quality medical education. As Hopkins rep Tracy Reeves indicates, Hopkins' academic & medical services already pay the city $10 million/year (parking & licensing fees, energy and telecom taxes), plus spending millions on security (that arguably is the city's responsibility).

What is it, then? Does Hancock mean to say, “Oh, we know Hopkins is doing a lot, but Hopkins needs to do more”, and that's about it?

As one commentator asks in the comment section, what about taxing the multitudes of churches of various denominations in and around the city? Or the entities providing so-called spiritual services need not concern themselves with the welfare of the city?