By Tom Henry | as published in the June 17, 2017 edition of the Blytheville Courier News (with slight changes)
“Read my lips: no new taxes,” Presidential Candidate George H.W. Bush said in 1988.
Unlike Bush, I actually mean it. Enough is enough. So everyone got what they wanted and the table has been cleared. Now stop asking for more new taxes – we can’t afford anymore! Also, it has been proven time and time again that requests for new taxes have typically been used to cover for poor management and corruption.
Imagine if you will, YOU being a parent struggling to make ends meet. There is more month than there is money and bills aren’t going to all get paid this time. You sit at your kitchen table and you look at the mountain of bills that have come in and the very limited funds with which you must pay as many of them as you can. You also notice that the tires on your old car are worn, you have a bad cavity, you have already stopped taking one or two of your non-essential medicines because you just don’t have the money and it hits you. Your bills are greater than your income!
So you have to pay your essentials like food, rent, utilities, transportation and essential medicines for you and your family. But this month that furniture bill or cell phone (“non-essential to life” bill) has to go unpaid. You are working hard, full-time…and you are extremely grateful to God that you have that job…but you just don’t make enough money because the pay is not as high as it once was.
Then your precious child comes to you and asks for something…anything…lets say a prom dress or a car…maybe its money for piano lessons or to be a gymnast. You know that your child desperately looks to you to provide for their needs. You realize your obligation and you also consider how much you love them. Life just isn’t fair when other children get those things and you, despite working full-time and working hard, can’t give your child the same thing. What do you do?
Do you painfully explain that there simply isn’t enough money at this time to pay for both needs and wants? Do you take out a loan to buy it anyway? After all, if other area children have one, shouldn’t your child likewise? What do you do?
Well, now lets take this metaphor and apply it to the recent special election taxes.
The City of Blytheville did not have the money (according to our city leaders) to fund pay raises and to renovate the new justice center. Therefore the answer must be to raise a new tax. After all, shouldn’t our police (at the upper ranks) be paid as much or more than other area law enforcement officers? Sure, we’d love to provide that for our family members…err…I’m sorry…for our brave, dedicated officers. But we simply can’t afford it and we can’t afford to take out a loan to do so, because we are barely meeting our bills now. But that is exactly what we did.
We took out a loan (bonds and a future U.S.D.A. loan) and raised a tax to repay them. But what happened? Before the ink was hardly dry and before the raises were able to go into effect, another area law enforcement agency (the Sheriff’s Department) has begun the process of raising their pay as well. Bottom line is, now we are in the same boat we were in, but with a new “loan” and tax. Yeah, I know we will have a new building. Perhaps we could have moved in and then gradually re-purposed it instead of taking out the loan – pay as we go. That is what we do with our homes.
Isn’t that the way that you pay for all big purchases like tires? Put a little back here and there and pray like crazy, just hoping to get through until the sufficient amount of money is set aside for the purchase? You don’t go take out new loans for every need?
Now, lets look at the school tax. Someone asked why we chose to list the pay raises last in the list of things that the new tax will cover in our articles. Well, the reason is because the new raises were not the biggest item in the shopping cart. Once again, we took out a loan (bonds) and raised a tax so that our precious children could have something nicer than the Jones’ children in other communities. But we really can’t afford it. But does it help them learn how to read, write or do arithmetic? Does the huge expenditures address the primary mission of all schools? No, but at least we’ll have better than the Jones’!
Also, these “arms races”, whether pay raises or athletic facilities, should never be the purpose behind raising taxes, because almost instantly…the Jones’ one up us and we still have the tax!
Notice that the title of this column says no more NEW taxes. I realize that we will soon have to extend out the hospital tax. I fully understand that.
Now, to be crystal clear and while using the biggest, fattest crayon that I can find, let me explain something…(speaking to our leaders). Just because someone can find a problem (who can’t) does not mean that we need to raise our astronomically high tax burden to fix it.
Increased revenues for our government entities come not through higher taxes, but by increasing the number of people paying taxes (through increased population and more people lifted out of poverty), better collection rates or by raising area sales dollars. That is just basic, common sense laws of economics.
Stop it! Stop fleecing the people. Stop raising our taxes.
Enough is enough!