Friday, August 31, 2007

Is that your final answer?....

The Legislative Services Agency, which has memebers from the two major political parties along with something refered to as "outside tax experts", has filed it's report on the possibility of eliminating property taxes. Their conclusion is that the only solution is to raise the state income tax to 9%, or the sales tax to 13.2%, or possible variations and combinations of the two.

That sounds extreme to most people, as well it should. It also validates what the Libertarians have been saying all along. Reducing spending isn't even in the equation. The only thing that interests our current crop of elected officials is finding ways to raise as much money as they can spend.

While they might give it lip service,they won't consider reducing spending. They won't seriously consider limiting the amount our schools spend on students, much of which has nothing to do with education. Neither will they consider trimming the budget busting entitlements of agencies at the local and state levels.

There is a way to eliminate property taxes that doesn't involve simply transfering the burden to another pocket. It requires downsizing government, and in turn reducing it's cost.

That's not something our current legislators are going to do.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Oh the shame, and what nerve...

It could be that I embarrassed a little to easily in my younger days. I remember once at Millvile Grade School when I accidentally tucked my shirt inside of my Fruit of the Looms. When Stinky Wilmont started laughing and pointed it out to the other kids, I felt so bad I hid out the rest of the day with Summit Taylor in the furnace room.

People don't seem to bothered nowadays if they have a portion or all of thier unmentionables exposed, and I guess if it doesn't bother them, it certainly shouldn't bother me. Still, I would like to see just a little more humility in the world.

I was reading the paper today, and I came across a story about the Reverend Ted Haggard, who was cast out of his church because of some unwise choices he made about drugs and sex. Apparently that turn of events has limited his fund-raising abilities, so he is asking people to donate enough money to support him and his wife for two years as he pursues other career opportunities.

I felt the same way last week at a parade we had in Hagerstown for it's Jubilee Day Festival. I always appreciate the people that take part in the parade, and I know from experience how much work and effort it takes, but given the current property tax mess and general mood, I was surprised to see the Republican float and the officeholders that were standing around it. Now that takes nerve!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

How do you spell relief?

Property taxes are finally getting as much attention from the Republicans and Democrats as the Libertarians have been giving them for years. I'd like to say its about time, but its hard to get too enthused about their concern. I read an article written by a local Republican legislator, who complains that he has been unable to garner support for property tax reform for 10 years, and now wants to use the wave of discontent among voters to pass legislation that would shuffle and add taxes in hope of providing some form of property tax relief.

I'm sorry Mr. Saunders, but we don't need property tax relief in the form of higher taxes on something else. We don't really need to transfer the taxing ability from one branch of government to another, because ultimately it doesn't matter if the county council or the state legislature is taking our money.

What we really need is some spending relief. That is the only thing that will make any type of tax relief possible.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

That's not really what I had planned...

I've done a fair share of whittling over the years, even though I was never very good at it. For those of you who weren't raised in the country, whittling (I believe the correct spelling and pronunciation is whittlin'), involves taking out your pocket knife, picking up a stick or a piece of wood, and shaving away on that stick or piece of wood until it resembles something else. Often my work resembled a smaller stick or a smaller piece of wood, although occasionally I might end up with a lump that might pass for a deformed creature of some type.

My main problem was, whenever I set out to whittle something, it always took on a shape of its own, and even though I knew what I was trying to do, it just never ended up like I had envisioned it.

That seems to happen a lot whenever our legislators set us up with a new tax. Back in 1987, the Indiana General Assembly created the County Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT), which county councils could adopt if they so desired. The rules for the use of the money collected by this tax were spelled out in the Indiana Code.
In simple terms, CEDIT funds could be used for "economic development projects" or for "capitol construction of most publicly owned facilities." Whether or not tax money should be used on privately owned projects is still a point of contention even among many non-libertarians, but that's the law for now, so that's how its going to be until we get the law changed.

Of course, much like my whittlin', things don't always work out exactly like the lawmakers planned. In my county, Wayne, the funds were used to buy an $8000.00 desk for the president of the Economic Development Commission, that used $75,000.00 of the funds just to find him. A county to the south of us used $125,000.00 of CEDIT funds to pay for housing prisoners in other county jails.

A couple of years ago, my home town, Hagerstown, spent several thousand CEDIT dollars on the Legacy Project, which was purported to help the people of Hagerstown achieve their dreams. It was probably a nice project, but maybe a little lacking in economic development field.

This week, the Hagerstown Town Council spent $5000.00 of the CEDIT funds to pay the salary of Communities in Schools site coordinator for the Nettle Creek School Corporation, who's job is "connecting adults with students through such programs as adult mentorships and tours of local businesses."

I pretty much gave up whittlin' because things seldom turned out like I had planned. I wish we could convince our legislators to stop passing most of these laws for the same reason.

Friday, August 03, 2007

If voting actually changed things, it would probably be illegal...

We've all heard it said many times. "If you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain." I've never totally agreed with that statement, although I do agree that it is important for people to pay attention and get involved with the governing process. But even for people that choose not to vote, there are protections guaranteed by the Constitution, and we should expect our government to honor those protections, regardless of who is in office.

In matters left to the states and people, however, we should definitely get involved.

We're getting ready for some elections this fall, and the number of races that are unopposed is disgusting. Some local towns won't even hold elections because of a lack of candidates. Others will hold elections for one or two positions. If your only choices are one or two people, or one or two parties, that are going to cause higher taxes, it's really not much of a choice. We'll go through the same thing next year on a larger scale, and with a few more candidates, but the same limited choices.

I know how hard it is to get people to run for office, especially third party candidates that actually offer alternatives to the tax and spend mindset the government now has, but if we want to reverse the growth of government, someone has to give the voters someone to vote for.

If we don't make an effort to really get involved, and if we continue to vote for
the same people and the same parties that created the mess, then we really shouldn't complain, even if we have the right.