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Part 2 of my column on an unpleasant subject: Taxes.


Popping the Circuit Breaker, or: Alternative Forms of Energy

Okay, so we’ve concluded that, because low to middle-income homeowners generally get exemptions that keep them from hitting the 2% limit, the Property Tax Circuit-Breaker law tends to be a tax break for the wealthy. We’re also established that, once again, the state legislature has passed feel-good legislation that impacts local governments much more than the state.

This is not to say there shouldn’t be property tax relief. Three thousand bucks in taxes is a bunch, even if you can afford a nice home. But the Indiana State Legislature – as usual – acted without thinking ahead. Not only has this plunged many local governments into crisis by the financial markets, but all local entities could be forced to make draconian cuts, far beyond what might come from even the most drastic attempts at savings. The people who wrote this law said they did it to force a debate on property taxes.Okay, fine – now what?

These are the people who hemmed and hawed for decades, ignoring the reassessment issue until they were forced by the courts to face it, and now they’re once more leaving the crisis in the hands of others – the crisis they created. Where is their plan? Where are their ideas? Where is any thinking beyond the next election?

Okay, let’s look at possible solutions. The first, of course, is to reverse spending. If you can reduce waste in government enough to make up for this shortfall, the problem’s solved. Unfortunately, there’s not nearly as much waste in schools and local governments as you might think – a lot of them have already been operating on shoestring budgets, so low that the only way they can manage major improvements or replace aging infrastructure is to finance projects. But, thanks to the circuit-breaker law, financing projects is now harder and more expensive. Oops.

You can argue that a school doesn’t need a new swimming pool, or that a town doesn’t
need to build a parking garage. But the simple math of 50 year old buildings with failing roofs, or schools that have more students than their classrooms can hold, or streets that have more holes than Saddam Hussein’s legal team, are hard to deny.

The job of local government is to protect and serve its citizens and provide public education; it’s pretty much as simple as that. The argument comes with what falls under those categories:

Does Albion need a sidewalk replacement program? Yes – if you think a municipality should provide sidewalks. Does a town need all its fire trucks? Not really – half of Churubusco’s trucks could probably handle 90% of its fires, which would result in a substantial saving to the taxpayers. For the other 10% of the fires, you could probably hold damage down to a block or two. Does Huntertown need as much police protection as it has? Depends on whether you’re being targeted by a criminal. Too bad they don’t post their schedules. Also, we could dismantle all our sewer utilities and go back to septic systems.

My point is, there’s not a lot of waste in local governments, except for what I call “necessary waste”, such as legal fees and paperwork that no one thinks we should have to do, but we have to do anyway. The irony of that is that many “unnecessary” costs are mandated by the Indiana state legislature, or the federal government. The term most often used is “unfunded mandates”. Oh, they do have to be paid for – but not by the people who force them on us.

In fact, just as crap goes downhill, smoke goes up; it’s at the state and federal level that waste is generally found. How much luck do you think the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns would have forcing the state government to cut their budget?

What else could we do to cut costs? We could cut levels of government. The primary candidate would be townships, which were formed to solve the problems of access and communication that existed 150 years ago. Most township officials are dedicated and caring people – they have to be, considering there’s no real financial incentive to do that difficult job – but townships are now an outmoded and unnecessary level of government with responsibilities that could be taken over by counties. Not a popular notion, I know, but that doesn’t make it less true.

I don’t know how much money that would save the state – not a lot locally, I suspect, since a large percentage of government expenses comes from paying employees. (There’s also the argument that you could do away with counties, or towns, and keep the townships.)

What else? Well, let’s look at how to make up the money lost in property taxes. There was a time when property taxes seemed reasonable because only the wealthy owned a large amount of property, but that time is long gone. What about a sales tax? Everyone – owners, renters, even illegal immigrants – has to buy stuff, so raising the sales tax a little might make up the cost in a relatively fair and painless way. There’s also the sin tax, which is basically what the new fireworks tax is. Examples would be more on beer to pay for cops, more on gas to pay for roads, or more on cigarettes until people start growing their own tobacco in back yard greenhouses.

I’m not a big fan of excessive sin taxes. They’ll be coming after my Mountain Dew next.
Still, user fees (read: taxes) would be one way to lesson the pressure on both property owners and local governments. Meanwhile, it wouldn’t hurt if towns, counties and schools continue to tighten their belts as much as possibly, to show they’re willing to reason and compromise. Assuming you can find someone in the state legislature who understands the concept.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 21st, 2006 09:00 pm (UTC)
Make up the difference
Normally, I am not one for encouraging taxation on various things, but heres a few little tidbits that might be of interest.

Tax on Alcohol: 1% for all beers (Domestic/imported)
2% for all hard liquers (Domestic/imported)
Given indianas propensity to Drink themselves silly, friday and sat nights, nevermind the rest of the week (Highly beneficial to areas with a high pop density of College kids)
Do the math for a minute.
Tax a six pack of beer, with a measly 1%, at the joyful MSRP of 5.99, yeah, its six cents. Whoopie.
1000 or more sold in a week, generates: a whopping 59.9 per week.
Then a measly 3114 and chance per year. Now that may not affect alot, but its enough to keep something from crashing perminantly.
Now hard liquer is more fun. Since the prices are much higher, you can see the effect more quickly.
On a single bottle, (low price of 11.99) Its a 23 cent tax. If you sell 1000 in a week, you see 239.8 in a week, in a year 12469 and change!

Thats just one example.
Now, Given my preclusive nature concerning the next subject, and my multiple reasons against it. If the state is really in that bad of dire straights... Here is another option.

Legalize pot.
Heres how you handle it. Tax the holy fuck out of it. Like say 35% Per ounce. Let stores actually sell it exsclusivly. For 20 bucks worth of pot, your making 7 bucks off it. (Granted its final sale would be something to the tune of 30 or so bucks, but hey, potheads around the world would rejoice. Smoke dope legally. Radical man!)
Selling aprox 1000 lbs of pot, would generate an assload of cash revenue.

Throw that at where it needs to be, IE schools, and (Gasp) means and ways to kick things that we dont need.

Though I would see a higher likelyhood for govt officials to get all misty eyed at something that generates dollar signs, and steal it for themselves.

Greed is a power motivator, one that makes many dive into politics. Which is why I have no love for these scum suckers.
But then again, if I were in charge of anything, Id make general things a pain in the ass for alot of people.

This whole thing does say something negative about our elected officials, and us as individuals and as a voting mass. If we keep electing these leeches, of course they are going to bleed us dry.
You can have elected officials who do the work of the people, but they sure as fuck better not have anything to do with the upper class.
Jul. 21st, 2006 10:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Make up the difference
I'm not quite ready for the idea of legalizing pot, although the arguments I've heard in favor of it often make sense. To me, getting soft on any kind of drugs at all is acknowledging defeat; but maybe we *have* been defeated, considering how strong the pro-druggies have become, and how often the courts and governments have tied the hands of the police.

I've got no problem at all with increasing the tax on alcohol, although sadly it's not going to cut down on drinking. One thing we've learned from the cigarette tax is that people will continue to indulge in their weaknesses, no matter how much they pay for them; still, the cost to society from too much booze needs to be offset somewhere. I'm just afraid they'll start taxing chocolate next, and I'll be paying $5 for each of my precious Bun bars. Maybe I should stock up on ice cream, just in case.

There are many politicians who still get in the business to help people; but they're all on the local level, and the local people don't control the purse strings. So yes, having someone steal the new sources of income for themselves will always be a constant danger. And we're at fault, for not knowing our candidates and going to the poles.
Jul. 22nd, 2006 02:24 am (UTC)
Re: Make up the difference
Stop trying to fix a problem that wont go away.
Thats your first thought and mistake.
1. Just because you raise the price, doesnt mean that the idiots out there will stop.
2. Take full advantage of it. Tax the fuck out of it make them pay for it, and use it for good means. Like helping disabled kids or some shit.
3. Idiots will do whatever the fuck they can to get away with whatever they think they can. Thusly, let darwin do his job from beyond the grave, and let natural selection weed out the dumbasses.

Guns, Porn, Ammo, fireworks, ciggs, and booze will all get taxed far quicker then chocolate, and icecream. Say nothing for gas, or Oil.

For every one individual who goes into politics for the right reasons, I will show you 2 THOUSAND that go into politics for the wrong reasons. Sad to say if your greedy, politics is the way to go. Power and money are powerful modivators. And if you watch one of those 'good' people long enough, they will stop being a good person.
Absolute power corrupts, and power corrupts absolutly.

Its why I dont vote. I know that it doesnt matter what the candidate stands for, they are lying to get your vote. That means that they are a hypocrite, and therefore not worth my vote. Until you make it a LAW that political canidates cannot lie to the public, and must perform at least six years of public service, so they get to know their constituants, THEN I may consider them worthy enough to vote for.
Otherwise, I know that they are inately sneaking for power.

I would eliminate people from the upper crust to run for office. Bush is a prime example, as is the surviving kennedys. Rich people do not make for good politicans.
Jul. 22nd, 2006 06:54 am (UTC)
Re: Make up the difference
If you don't vote, you're part of the problem. One person who doesn't think their vote counts becomes a pretty powerful argument for changing nothing, when multiplied by thousands.

There are many, many good elected officials out there, who never get as far as state and federal positions because only the far left and right wing nuts, who are convinced that somehow their sides are the only and always right ones, actually vote. Until the normal, middle of the road people make it clear that we're willing to put the career politicians right back out on the street until they get it right, they'll continue to thumb their collective noses at us.

And no, the problem of illegal drugs won't go away; but we can make it clear to the next generation that we won't condone it, and hopefully try to keep those who indulge to a small percentage. Dictators don't go away either, but each one who starts messing with his neighbors needs to get knocked down; it makes no more sense to legalize pot than it does to legalize pickpockets or drunk driving.
Jul. 22nd, 2006 04:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Make up the difference
Quite to the contrary, by voting I am only saying that I condone the current system of how things are done.
We as voters are not the problem. The politicans are the problem, as such, how does this fall back on us.
If you dont vote, you are making a clear message that they are not doing their job properly. (Yes the right/left have complete control.) And as such, Voting changes nothing.
By voting you make a statement of the following
1. You didnt pay attention enough to what was going on to notice that both canidates lie through their teeth to make you feel good.
2. You assume (Wrongly) That things will change this time around.
3. That the nature of the beats will magically change just because you cast your vote.
Sorry, I dont fall for the sheep meathod of politics.
You stop the problem, by making them stop.
If you dont vote, they dont get elected.
They dont get elected, the current and highly broke systems emergency plans kick in. (Or should.)

There may be few good people in politics. but again, show me one, and ill show you a thousand bad ones. The whole thing sucks, and stinks, and I dont know hand from ass on the inner workings of politics, but I dont need too know. I dont intend to run for anything outside ruler of the earth. LOL.

The drug problem wont go away ever. Even as a generation of individuals saying NO, the result will remain the same.
Humans have this fucked up need to be dangerous. We have to find out why its so 'bad'. Thats part of the draw to drugs. Because its so wrong.
Not to mention the federal government makes such a grade 1 case about it. Unghs. As if the cartels need more good press. I cant count on how many people thought we were doing evil things by stopping a few thousand Kilos a week. (Semi trucks man, never gets old.)

Speaking of which, I got reminded of this, and figure youd find it funny.
We were out, doing a general secure area patrol, when somebody notices that theres a semi on a dirt road. Ok, unusual, but what the hell. We check it out, the semi has ************* Cartel drug company on the side of the fucking trailer. So of course, we stop and question the driver. (Who doesnt speak a stich of english suprise suprise.)
Come to find out, the fucker actually got past customs with this damn thing. So we search the trailer.
(Boogles here man.)
15k Of pure, grade 1 columbian coke.

In particularly fine fashion, we decided that this would be a great time to do a live fire exercise concerning thew new HDE rounds. (Think Airbust with napalm. Fun shit.)
Trailer went boom, we laughed at the white cloud of drugs that went poof and made the driver walk home. Wherever it was.
I think he was happy we didnt kill him.

Stopping the problem at the outlets, doesnt help, being there showed that. They will continue to ship it in as long as they can.
No, you want a surefire answer.
Kill the heads.
Anybody who transports it, drop them like rocks.
Anyone who manufactures it, drop them like heavy rocks.
Dont puzzle it out, dont wait for diplomacy, or international bullshit
just drop the fuckers.
(And quietly this means supporting the highly unethical use of military force to solve a problem... but its a war on drugs right?)

Jul. 23rd, 2006 06:13 am (UTC)
Re: Make up the difference
If you don't vote, you're making a statement that you don't care. There are only two ways to fix our current system: The collapse of our nation, which I can't support because I've got kids and would like to see them grow up in a world better than the one I left; and continually voting each and every incumbant of both parties out of office until they get the hint and start changing their tunes. Republican or Democrat, doesn't matter: If the bums keep getting thrown out every single election, they'll change whether they want to or not. But that won't happen if only the party base votes, because those people will always vote only for their party regardless of what a loser they've hitched their wagon to. It has to be everyone, all the middle of the road people who have been disenfranchized by the left and right wings. Until then, the politicians will convince themselves that, by not voting, we're giving them an unspoken seal of approval.

No, the drug problem won't go away. Neither will the drinking and driving problem, but you don't solve it by saying, "Okay, since you people insist on drinking and driving, we'll just make it legal and hope you don't kill too many innocent civilians". Even though "war on: fill in the blank" is an overused phrase, we are in a war on crime, and the criminals -- most of them druggies or drunks -- are winning for the same reason selfish, uncaring people keep getting elected: because we're giving up.

Our military is supposed to be there to defend America, and if there's a worse danger to America than the people who make and distribute drugs, I don't know what it is. It's well withing Constitutional authority to deploy troops and start taking out anyone who makes the stuff or tries to smuggle it in. You make it unprofitable because their people and infrastructure keeps getting destroyed, they'll stop making it. Getting people to stop using it rarely works because, as you mentioned, humans *like* to do the stupid and dangerous things. But if the supply dries up, that's at least one high they'll have to search somewhere else for.

As for Americans who make and deal drugs, I've got the easy answer: Line them up against a wall and shoot them. No probation, no parole, none of that "I've found God and I'll be a good boy" shit. They kill our kids, we kill them. No questions asked.

I deal with the effects of those inhuman scumbags for a living, and as far as I'm concerned that's one place where there's no room for compromise. Blow the semi up? Hell, yeah -- leave the driver in it, next time! Did I mention I have two kids?
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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