MOLA:42’s Guide to this Fall’s Tax Fashion Fad
To put it in a way people seem to understand best; “Sales Tax is the New Black.”
Many of our municipalities, such as Fortuna and the County of Humboldt, are adorning themselves with additional Sales Taxes. The City of Eureka, always a fashion leader, shows off their sexy line of “public safety” Sales Tax for many more years of ground-breaking style.
We can nearly all of us join the fashionista elite by voting for these Sales Taxes come the November Election.
“But just how did the Sales Tax become such a fashion stalwart?”
I’m glad you asked because there’s a story behind it.
Once upon a time there was this state known as California. And it was proclaimed by all that California was the “Golden State.” And golden it was whether Republican or Democrat ruled the land.
There the schools were the top in the country, you could go for a fine higher education without going into debt for life, the pot holes were fixed, the police and fire departments were funded and generally the place was the envy of the nation.
Since we started the story with “Once Upon a Time,” it stands to reason this situation did not last. And it didn’t.
Soon people got tired of living in the Golden State… It was nice and all that but a tad too expensive for some folks (mostly the folks who would otherwise have the easiest time paying their fair share), so they prayed for a way to find Relief.
And then… from the heavens… came down a Great Document; it was called Proposition 13… and it was Good.
“Why don’t we just dramatically reduce all the property taxes?” they shouted with glee. “Everybody pays property taxes… they’ll love it!”
“However,” said those with a little more cunning than most, “We must make everybody feel good about cutting their own taxes. Otherwise, they might know they are being greedy and vote their conscience instead of their pocket books.”
“But how?” cried the rest.
“Well boys,” said the wise guys. “We announce that grannies are getting kicked out of their homes because of property taxes. There won’t be a dry eye in the house.”
“We didn’t know there were grannies getting kicked out of their houses…”
“Not really,” answered the wise guys. “Anyway, not all that many. But ask yourselves, isn’t one granny out on the sidewalk one granny too many?”
“Oh yes!” the others proclaimed. “Three cheers for the dispossessed grannies!”
So Proposition 13, despite warnings about how much harm would be done to the Golden State, became the law of the land and saved the grannies. With this done and with joyful enthusiasm they (being on a roll) soon restricted almost every other tax or way to pay for the government except one: the Sales Tax.
Admittedly I simplified the arguments and the events a tad. But that is pretty much how things went down.
“Isn’t it good the property tax is no longer a noose around our necks?”
Well yes; if you don’t believe in paying for what you get.
What we did pay for and get was a school system now ranked among the bottom of the nation, a failing infrastructure, poorly paid and staffed police and fire services and a higher education system that is the envy of no one and priced out of the means of most middle class students (those of the middle class who are left).
This is because property tax is how schools, roads, cities, counties and public safety are paid for.
“But the grannies…”
Yes, there were problems with how the property tax was handled in some cases. There was a need for some reform. However, the grannies could have been very well taken care of by much less extreme legislation. The people who were behind Proposition 13 had absolutely no real interest in grannies or in that kind of reform.
Putting up a poster child (or poster granny in this case) was a useful strategy: Look at the current Conservative’s efforts to deny the vote to as many low income people as possible. You can almost hear the battle cry, “It is better to deny the vote to a thousand citizens than to allow one illegal alien to cast a ballot.”
Pretty inspirational, huh?
But also a digression I guess.
Let’s now get into the not too entertaining world of tax categories. When taxation systems are analyzed they are spread along a spectrum from Progressive to Regressive.
A Progressive Tax is where one pays according to one’s means. The rich pay more, the poor pay less.
On the other end Regressive Taxes do not take into consideration a person’s ability to pay.
So, the most Progressive Tax would be the income tax (when properly executed, which it isn’t). Next in line would be Property Tax because people who live in expensive houses tend to have the money to afford to live in them.
On the Regressive end the very worst would be a Poll Tax (based purely on the condition that one is breathing). Close to that is the Sales Tax.
Poll Taxes (or “head taxes”) can be really tempting to impose due to their simplicity. You say to yourself, “We need five million quatloo$ to stay in the black. If everybody ante’s up just a measly five quatloo$ we’ll be covered.”
Then the riots start.
That’s because the people swimming in quatloo$ pay their five quatloo$ without a thought and the people hovering just shy of starvation must pay their five quatloo$; whether they have them or not.
Sales Taxes are not much better. It all sounds egalitarian, rich people pay more Sales Tax than poor, what can be more equitable than that?
Well, people on the low end pay a much higher percentage of their income in Sales Tax; they have to because they don’t have anything to put into the bank for a rainy day… or have less for that purpose than the well-quatlooed. The poor’s quatloo$ are spent almost entirely in retail.
But for all of that, when we debate Sales Taxes, we are really arguing about the wrong issue. The Sales Tax discussion is actually a diversion:
The question is not about the justice of Sales Taxes in general; but the justice of why the people more than capable of providing a fairer share toward the burden of our government… don’t.
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Here’s an interesting detail: The Chamber of Commerce warns us of the much debated danger of a higher minimum wage increasing the cost of the things we buy… and yet they say absolutely nothing about higher Sales Taxes, which are guaranteed to raise the cost of the things we buy.
I guess it’s not a matter of what is being paid but rather who is doing the paying.
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Standard Disclaimer: My opinions are my own and not necessarily those of the Tuluwat Examiner. I am not on the staff of the Tuluwat Examiner. I don’t even know who these people are. But it should be noted that due to the recent Supreme Court ruling that Corporations have religious beliefs, and therefore souls; the Eureka City Council will now have council meeting invocations lead by local corporations.
Security National is set to be the first Corporate Vicar of Eureka. Amen
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