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Taxes as a surrogate for evil
JohnH
There are three ballot issues in california that demonstrate how politicians are able to use "taxes are always evil" to thwart rational discussion on issues.

Anyone who pays attention to california knows that, like the rest of the country, we have significant financial problems. Including the inability to pass a state budget because it requires a 2/3rd's majority in the legislature.

Proposition 24, 25 and 26 deal with certain aspects of these problems.

24 repeals legislation that would go into effect in 2010 that would give tax breaks to mostly very large corporations. It has 4 major provisions all somewhat technical. 2 could possibly affect small businesses. These have to deal with how single year losses can be used to offset previous or future years income. Note that most small businesses cannot afford even one year of losses so they will generally only affect larger businesses. 2 strictly deal with multistate or multientity businesses, in other words very large businesses.

25 reduces the required 2/3rd's majority to pass a state budget to a simple majority. It specifically retains the 2/3rd's majority to increase taxes.

26 would require that fee increases would require a 2/3rd's majority in the state legislature or be submitted to local voters again requiring a 2/3rd's majority.

All three are being attacked by the antitax crowd as evil. 24 would harm business. 25 makes it easier to raise taxes. 26 would close a loophole that allows legislatures to raise taxes without the sainted 2/3rd's majority. All of this is evil because taxes are evil.

In the case of 25 it is an outright lie. As I said above the 2/3rd's majority for increasing taxes is retained.

24 is being attacked as negatively effecting all businesses which will drive them out of the state. When, in fact, the only ones that will be effected are large and probably multistate and even multinational. They will not be driven out of the state the only thing that will happen is that their instate profits will be moderately reduced.

26 is also being promoted as a taxation reduction measure. Fee's typically are imposed on people entering parks, starting a business, or building a new house. They are not taxes per se but are compensation to the government (state or local) for services provided.

The ads associated with all three of these propositions emphasize taxes because the american public has been trained to hear this word as evil without thought. They have been trained in various ways not because it is in the public benefit but because a small minority benefits from low taxation. I know it is hard for many to think this when they pay their taxes at the end of the year but it is true. Consider the inheritance tax which effects only a tiny proportion of the american public. Or the capital gains tax which can have an effect on many but only significantly effects a very few. These taxes often get discussed as if they effect everyone. In general americans pay some of the lowest taxes in the developed world.

Consider the benefits we get from these low taxes. Poorly maintained roads, bad schools, closed or poorly maintained parks. That is not however the main point. As long as certain interest groups can manipulate the american public by using the idea that taxes are inherently evil rational discourse on some issues will be thwarted. If every time an american voter hears taxes they decide no they will often vote against things that are in their own self interest.

Taxes may be construed as evil but they must be looked at as a necessary evil. Care must be taken to not be manipulated by the word alone. One must look at the whole of the thing and make a decision on that.

Please do not construe the above to mean that in all cases I approve of how my tax money is spent. I hate the american military expenditures (and yes I support soldiers, sailors and airmen). I hate the prison system in California. I hate the subsidies given to preferred businesses. I am only saying that we must as voters understand the real issues and not be manipulated by the notion that taxes are evil.
 
Skeeve
In my experience, anytime corporations are given tax cuts or tax benefits, it usually ends up as detrimental to the taxpayer.

If I read your post right, 24 would repeal tax breaks, 25 would reduce the number of votes to pass a budget and 26 would require the 2/3 majority to raise state fees as explained above.

All sound like acceptable proposals.

So I'll take a wild guess and assume the Republicans are against them?
"The world is my country, and do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine
 
seeker
Whatever happened to the concept that things that sound to good to be true are generally scams? The fact is that our financial problems, whether its in the state of California or in the Federal government, are purely due to the fear politicians have of taxation.

Political slogans like 'There is no free lunch', or 'Ask not what your country can do for you...' that at least were honest enough to call on citizens to make sacrifices for the good of all of us are replaced with a sort of 'its okay to be selfish' mentality. Sure, sometimes taxes are misused but I'd far rather risk occasional misuse than the sort of complete collapse that we are beginning to see.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
catman
Absolutely right. I'm sure a portion of taxes is lost in the bureaucracy, but the alternative is simply printing money which becomes valueless.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
JohnH
Skevee, you are absolutely correct about props 24 and 25. 26 the republicans/conservatives/anti tax crowd are enthusiastically for.

The 2/3rd's majority requirement for increasing taxes has been in place in california since passage of prop 13 in 1978. It has been a burden to getting things done since then. I do not know how many times tax increases to build or repair schools, repair infrastructure, buy new parks, simple public benefiting items, have failed because they have received 66.3% of the vote. An example of the way this requirement damages the public is taxing of oil companies. California, alone among oil producing states, has no tax on the quantity of oil extracted from the ground. In 2006 there was an proposition to add this tax (87) which was defeated. It did not get even a simple majority thanks to a very misleading campaign financed of course by oil companies. The 2/3rd's majority requirement made this an easy campaign but the oil companies still spent over $100 million.

Adding the 2/3rd's majority requirement to raising of fees will only put the state and more importantly local governments into a bind when trying to pay for public services. It also has the potential to reduce the ability of the state to impose fees on people who produce polluting products. That part is a little unclear to me right now. I think it may be a ploy by the people against the proposition.

One of the interesting things in all this is that it only takes a simple majority to decrease taxes. The original prop 13 did not receive a 2/3rd's majority. It was very close but it got 64.8% of the vote. So taxes can be decreased by a simple majority but only increased by a super majority. Not a rational situation from my point of view. Similarly tax code no matter what the effect can be altered by a simple majority. Again a not rational situation.
Edited by JohnH on 10/23/2010 16:49
 
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