Who should pay for government wants and why.

Self-absorbed Americans and never-ending self-interest activists continue demands for more government spending to provide for their wants—mostly for the comfort, convenience and financial benefit of clamoring interests. Problem: they want to be exempt from paying their “fair share” and load the burden on others.

Old bakery analogies once used by responsible parents to warn their children of the realities of life seem appropriate: “You can’t have-your-cake-and-eat-it- too.” “Your wants are just pie-in-the-sky.” Today’s adults often act like children.

The Wilmington StarNews Editorial Board whines about the distribution of Other People’s Money from taxes (“revenue”) in an editorial, “A tax that’s too taxing” (Link below). But, typically, they ignore a vital part of the government equation: spending. For now we’ll set aside the important question of why they refuse to use the “power of the press” in pressuring officials to curtail spending. The question they raise is who should pay for it.

The Board frets that a majority of our elected North Carolina State senators voted to (timidly) cut taxes and “gutted a House economic development (spending) bill”—“gutted” in journalistic jargon means that the legislature mildly scaled back some interest-groups’ goodies or automatic government spending increases.

Press Board members whimper about plans to increase the State sales tax by taxing people now exempt—begging the question: If all the spending is so important to everyone why shouldn’t we all pay our fair share? Hummm?

But Smith, that’s not the way it works. Right. Tell me about it.

Imposing the revenue pain on everyone seems more “fair” (to use a commonly used collectivist word). Editors claim that sales taxes “hit poor and middle-class taxpayers harder than better off ones.” Depending on how you manipulate numbers that’s debatable. We know that “poor” people receive disproportionally more public benefits to augment disposable income and they probably pay very little if any income taxes because of dozens of “tax credits” and “exemptions” available.

In New Hanover County’s population of 214,000 about 36,000 (17%) are listed “below poverty level” (“poverty” defined today by government is far from destitute). Poverty-level income continues to rise and benefits to this class continue to increase. And many people are able to move out of this category.

The Board also cries about a senate plan to spread around the State some of the local loot collected by counties from hapless tourists. This politically favored scheme allows gutless county and city officials to fleece the out-of-towners (and the rest of us) so they can continue spending without infuriating the resident natives—who vote—with higher property taxes.

Then there’s another way to pay for comfort and convenience services (suggested by a friend) that cost us multi-millions of dollars in this county and throughout the State: users-pay.

For years here in Wilmington and New Hanover County taxpayers have been subsidizing development interests, transit, building projects, cultural activities and recreation desires of small groups of people. Some of the spending for these wasteful uses of precious resources is a large debt imposed on all of us by the votes of less than 15 percent of eligible voters.

Selling government property such as the municipal golf courses (that compete with private enterprises—and how many “poor” people play golf?); privatizing facilities such as the convention center [benefiting (?) only a few old downtown businesses and competing with the private hotels] and a transit system (a hugely expensive, wasteful jobs-program boondoggle); and charging for services at the senior center (used mostly by well off retirees), libraries (also competing with private businesses) and limited use parks, such as multimillion dollar tennis courts and gardens (used be a few wine-and-roses elite) would relieve the tax burden on most city and county taxpayers who don’t need and can’t afford to have their money spent on these “services.”

I agree with the Editorial Board’s premise: taxes are too taxing. So, why don’t they help promote eliminating the causes and a more just shared responsibility for government as a public service to all our citizens?



About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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