Sunday, April 11, 2010

The self-inflicted quiet killer

No I am not talking about cancer or diabetes. Those things are terrible true, but they already have advocate groups to decry their obvious dangers. No the suicidal killer that I am talking about it probably affecting most everyone in your community as it has in my own. It is the ECONOMIC grim reaper of the insidious creeping sales tax.

You see the basic problem is not your local government directly but in fact the PEOPLE who are the source of the outbreak. Yes the people, are spreading this out-of-control virus at an alarming rate. They are not infecting our communities with malice and most of the time, hardly worry at all that their actions will harm anyone. This is primarily because we citizens inoculate the silent masses through incrementalism. Nobody can complain or whine about a quarter cent sales tax here or a half cent there. Who would deny our brave public servants, libraries, and parks the measly half cent they need to provide on-going services right? Do you want the reality of un-clean water or backed-up sewers on your conscious when just a fraction of a cent will fix all and save the masses from certain doom?

Well the reality of all that good-will and incremental tightening of the noose is that there are ONLY 200 half-cents in anyone’s hard earned dollar. There is no amount of fun new math to change this fact. I am not arguing that the need is not present in any of our social services or that our public servants deserve more. What I am suggesting is that at some point, just like we teach our kids, our communities are going to have to make a choice. Do you want to CHOOSE to survive with less and do more for yourselves, or do you want to die a long slow death and hope that somebody else will choose to save you instead?

St. Louis just passed a miniscule half cent sales tax to expand bus and subway services. It all sounds noble and wonderful – I get that. But the reality is that only 5% of the region uses busses or trains even one time per year. Over a million people paying an extra half-cent on their purchases to subsidize a service that they don’t use? As pointed out by Charles Brennan, local radio commentator and host of the regional PBS talk show, Donnybrook, a Target receipt from 2005 as compared today showed a 63% increase in sales tax over the same regional area. Now I don’t know about you, but I thought that “inflation was dead” and “taxes” will only affect the rich? I guess “the rich”, at least in St. Louis, means any man, woman, child, or company who purchases ANYTHING at anytime within our county domain?

So look around your own town and do your own comparisons. I would bet that tax incrementalism is quietly and relentlessly infecting everything that you come in contact with on a daily basis. Your local economy and residents, like ours, will continue to try and absorb the mounting burden. Eventually, one day soon, there will be no more pennies to cut in half and no more golden geese. The local economy will no longer be competitive so sales will move elsewhere and people will move away. No candles or wakes will be necessary. N0 in-depth investigations will be required. Nobody will care, because It’ll be just another unceremonious expiration of a community where the need exceeded the resource and the victim’s death will be ruled an accidental suicide.

1 comment:

  1. Right you are! Our city spends ALL tax revenues for whatever the politicians want immediately. Then they "cry poverty" and run endless
    One-Eighth Cent tax raise balloting. Some of our dumb voters never think 1/8 cent matters and vote "Yes." Others bow to the City's threats of
    discontinuing something they "must have" and vote "Yes." The rest of us write gripes like THIS! What else can we do? We're overtaxed but
    outnumbered! Watch out in YOUR towns, folks!