Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Just shoot me...

There are always some facts of life we must accept no matter how disappointing or distasteful they might be. Barring some sort of miracle, John McCain, Barak Obama, or Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States. I wish it wasn't so.

I wish we had a viable candidate that was willing to bring our troops home and reduce spending. Unfortunately, the candidate who claims he will bring most of the troops home the quickest also has plans to saddle taxpayers an extra $1.4 trillion in domestic spending during the course of his term.

Our choices are, 1, almost end the war soon and increase spending, or 2, end the war a little later, unless we can't, and increase spending, or 3, stay in Iraq for the next 100 years and increase spending, only not as much as the other guys, unless we need to.

If ever the voters needed another option, this is the time. The other day someone said that if somebody put a gun to his head and told him to vote for one of these three candidates, he would have to tell them to just pull the trigger.

I would have to agree.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Getting their fix...

We’ve all seen it before. Maybe a friend or family member who really needs to give up tobacco, alcohol, or drugs. Try as they might, their addiction is so strong it overrides their good intentions. It doesn’t necessarily make them bad people, but their dependency hampers their ability to make the right choices.

Our state legislature just spent 3 months wrestling with the property tax mess, and you certainly have to give them credit for being creative. Their goal was to quiet the public outcry over sharply increased property tax bills, and they may have achieved that goal among some property tax payers, if only temporarily.

The legislation they just passed, limiting taxes to 1% of a homes assessed value, will supposedly cut the average homeowners tax bill by 30%. Of course that is based on your 2006 bill, which was likely more than 30% higher than your 2005 bill. And it won’t fully take effect until 2010, by which time your property’s assessed value may very well increase, followed closely then by your tax bill.

In their efforts to save money and placate a disgruntled public, our lawmakers also moved to eliminate elected assessors in some townships, replacing them with county assessors who will then hire other assessors to figure out how much your house is worth every time the state spends millions of your dollars on a reassessment.

In their efforts to meet the constitutional requirement that taxes be “fair and equal”, they have provided legislation that will allow neighbors living side by side in identical houses to pay a vastly different amount in taxes. A 65 year-old who makes $30,000.00 a year will pay less than a 65 year-old who makes $31,000.00 a year. A 65 year-old who makes $30,000.00 a year will pay less than a 25 year-old who makes $20,000.00 a year.

In the same “identical home” situation, a person that rents the home to another person would face tax increases double those of a person that lives in the home they own, and if they choose to operate a business out of that home, the tax increases could triple.

In spite of their efforts, our officials have failed with the current legislation to make property taxes equal, and regardless of any changes that might be made, they can never make property taxes fair. They are, by nature, a confiscatory tax. Even in the unlikely event that the legislature would agree to tax all property evenly, we could never escape the fact that if a person became unable to pay the taxes on their home, the government could seize their home and auction it off to the highest bidder.

Taxpayers can justifiably come up with many reasons to eliminate property taxes. Politicians have just one reason to keep them. Property taxes give the government its surest form of income. For politicians who are addicted to spending other peoples money, it the best way to assure they get their “fix”. While they may have shuffled some of the property tax burden to increased sales taxes and local option taxes, the largest portion of property taxes remain intact, and the cost to the taxpayers of operating the government continues to grow.

Governor Daniels has said this new legislation will make Indiana America’s best place to own a home or business. If we really want to do that, we need to eliminate property taxes altogether. Libertarians have presented plans to do just that. Unfortunately, those plans involve reducing government spending, and that sends our current legislators into withdrawal.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The buzzards are back....

Some things you can count on. On March 12th, the buzzards returned to their summer home in the trees at the west edge of Hagerstown. I don't know how they do it, but they always seem to know it's time to migrate back. You can set set your calendar by them every year.

You can also count on the state legislature not to do anything about the cost of operating our government. While they did manage to shuffle some of the property tax burden over to sales tax and local option taxes, they did nothing to address the entitlement spending and waste that continues to take more and more from our pockets.

I saw a couple of buzzards picking at the bones of an unfortunate road kill deer yesterday afternoon.

It reminded me a lot of our legislators.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

It's later than you think...

As I looked out into total darkness at 7:00 A.M. this morning, I am once again reminded that there is no situation so dire that government can't make it worse.

Now, I'm not one to claim that Daylight Savings Time is the end of the world. Certainly life has continued with only some minor adjustments on my part. I do have to remember that the clock in my wife's delivery van won't be right until one of the kids gets home to reset it. And while it was nice to see daylight by 7 a.m., I suppose it will happen again in about a month. Of course, by then it should be daylight by 6. But, as I said, I'll get by.

There is one thing I would like to hear, though. From Governor Daniels and all of the lobbyists and politicians that claimed DST would save us money and provide us with more jobs, I'd like to hear them admit that the change has actually cost us money, and that as a state we have lost more jobs than we have gained since it was implemented.

I don't expect them to switch back to the way it should be, but I would like to hear them admit that the change was more about recreation than business. My old pal Stinky Wilmont used to say, "Don't pee in my ear and try to tell me it's raining".

I think that's a reasonable request.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Just a little off the top...

Back when I was a kid, there was a barber in our town with questionable skills in barbering. It was pretty well accepted by both him and his customers that the haircut was going to be mediocre at best, and when he was finished, the last thing he said before he let you out of the chair was "Well, that's not very good, but it's the best I can do".

I hadn't thought about him for a while, but he came to mind after John McCain clinched the Republican nomination for President last night. Nobody seems to excited about it, and the main discussion seems to be that he might be the Republicans' best chance at beating the Democrats this fall.

Now, I came to the conclusion a long time ago that it really doesn't make a whole lot of difference whether we have a Democrat or a Republican in the White House, the same way it doesn't make much difference which party is in charge of Congress. Government continues to grow at about the same rate regardless of who is in charge. Still, if the Democrats are trying to run their best Democrat, as Democrats go, you would think the Republicans would want to run their best Republican, as Republicans go.

I don't know who I'll be voting for this fall, but I have decided it won't be the candidate the Republicans or Democrats are putting on the ballot. This may be the best they can do, but I know I can do better.

We all can.