Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Cent, Percent, Whatever

You know, I wish that the guys in the media who keep lauding the quality of professional journalism based upon the criteria that they employ editors would actually get some editors who have some sense. Or cents.

Article in this morning's Birmingham News regarding the Jefferson County Commission's idea of adding yet more to the sales tax burden through a one percentage point increase, ostensibly to help raise money for schools (i.e., The ChildrenTM). Of course, the way they (the Commission) try to make this palatable is to call it a one cent tax, and the folks who report and print this nonsense let it go unchallenged. The newspaper does it, but even though I pick on the Birmingham News because it's easy to link to (and easy, period), the sloppiness is even worse on television.

It's NOT a penny tax. It is a one percent tax. An additional one cent on every dollar spent. An additional one percent on top of an already groaning level of sales taxation. An additional tax that is regressive. An additional tax that is volatile, and rises and falls based on how much is consumed. The state of Alabama is already in a big enough bind on a statewide basis by relying too heavily on the use of sales taxes as a means of generating general fund revenue, and now we have another group coming in to scrounge around for yet more. Why? Biggest reason is the hostility toward any sorts of property tax increases, as well as the fact that county governments can raise sales taxes without permission from the state if it is earmarked for education, and they can do it without having to receive voter approval.

The argument that the schools need money for repairs is valid--they indeed have been neglected. But if the county commission is so set on helping them, why not allocate some of the money we already have sent them? Especially considering that the county now reassesses property values on annual basis, meaning that that revenue stream goes up every year. Second, although the aim might be worthy, who asked the Commission to do it? Why all the sudden interest?

In the article linked above, why does one of our honorable Commission members say this: "I need more details, strategy and timelines so I can explain this to my community and decide if I support it myself. Who are the bond guys? They need to come see me. Who are the construction companies? They need to come see me." Yeah, it's all about ME isn't it? But here's the deal--it's nice to want to see some details and such, but any 'talking to' needs to be done in public. All this behind the scenes, "you come see me" crap is what got the sewer system in such trouble--the backroom deals and ethical lapses are something else taxpayers are now having to shovel our way out of.

Finally, given the seeming inability of the Commission to regulate expenditures and control costs, why trust them with an extra 86.6 MILLION DOLLARS expected to be raised in just the first year alone?

And yet, here these folks come again, rifling my pockets for more. Only a penny? For The Children? Only for a few years?

Oh, please.

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