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August 28, 2003

One of the Enablers of Ever-Bigger Government

Numerous groups cast themselves as ideologically-neutral and believe their efforts are nothing more than 'good government.' According to National Taxpayers Union president John Berthoud, in an op-ed in today's Washington Times, one such group is the League of Women Voters. If their efforts were limited to political debates and voter registration, the 'good government' label might be true. However, Berthoud describes the active support for higher taxes by state and local LWV chapters, including those in Alabama, Kansas, Colorado, and California. Even worse, however, he notes the national LWV supports an enormouse expansion of the federal government. His group costed out the League's national legislative wish list, and found that it represents a 40% increase in the size of the already behemoth federal government, costing about $870 billion annually.

August 26, 2003

Spending it 'For the Children.' Right!

A year or so ago, it was popular for supporters of the public schools to use the slogan "for the children" to justify the need for increasing taxes. Apparently, some school board members in Oakland County, Michigan were intent on spending some of the taxpayer money on themselves, too. According to reporting by the Detroit Free Press [today (8/26), yesterday (8/25), and last Friday (8/22)], Michigan's governor now "has joined calls for members of the Oakland School Board of Education to resign amid reports of extravagant spending by the board and some top administrators." For example, the assistant superintendent for research was two weeks shy of resigning her $119,000 a year job when she took an 18-day trip to Poland, billing the school district half of the trip's $2,660 cost. The school board even approved "giving $50,000 to the City of Detroit for its 300th birthday bash in 2001." Talk about "Government for the Government by the Government paid for by Guess Who?" The ol' Taxpayers, of course. [For many more examples of such outrageous spending, be sure to read the Detroit Free Press' Friday, August 25, reporting]

August 22, 2003

Flushing Tax Dollars at the Arlington County Sewage Treatment Plant

Three years ago, the Arlington County Board approved a public art policy that provides for setting aside 1% of capital improvements for so-called public art. County management is planning a $250 million, or more, expansion of the plant, and according to a report in the August 22, 2003 Washington Post, "The county will spend an estimated $2 million . . . on public art. The plant is on South Glebe Road, south of Crystal City. On Wednesday evening, August 20, the county invited residents to meet the artist and "discover its artistic vision for the Arlington County Water Pollution Control Plant." According to the Post story, the artist's "plans include erecting trellises to cover tanks filled with partially treated sewage, planting rooftop gardens on new structures and adding interpretive kiosks to describe how the plant works. There would be a nature center and an observation turret that could serve as an 'environmental beacon' for the neighborhood -- lighting up on 'bad air' days." The Arlington Way is dead; long live "Government for the Government by the Government Paid for by Guess Who?"

August 21, 2003

Another Failed Government Program

Liberals and other do-gooders are forever devising programs aimed at improving this or helping that. Unfortunately, the programs are paid for by taxpayers. To limit development of open space, Michigan offers tax credits to owners of farmland. A study, released earlier this month by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, found the state's primary land preservation program provided tax credits totalling $800 million to owenrs of 45% of farmland statewide between 1982 through 2001. However, the Center's analysis "revealed that the bulk of credits granted between 1982 and 2001 were applied to farmland distant from development pressures. One of the Center's directors' noted, "This program failure casts doubt on government's ability to devise market-based mechanisms to improve the environment." Now the governor's land-use council is getting ready to recommend more land acquisition that may include a bond issue for as much as $1 billion.

August 20, 2003

Speaking of that D.C. Commuter Tax

According to today's Washington Post, "Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R) has finally weighed-in on the commuter tax against a lawsuit that seeks to allow the District to impose a commuter tax." The Post notes he did this in a letter officials in Northern Virginia in which Kilgore said it is "an attack on a fundamental constitutional principle." The opinion page of the Northern Virginia Journal [requires subscription], seemed more on point, however, when, just one day earlier, it based its editorial, "Cheating Hearts," on numbers produced by the Tax Foundation. According to the Journal editorial, "Despite the fact taht the District gets back a whopping $6.44 for every dollar its citizens pay in federal taxes, city officials still have the nerve to talk about charging Virginia and Maryland commuters a tax for working there." District residents complain about taxation without representation. Takes real chutzpah, though, to complain when you're already number 1 on the public dole.

August 16, 2003

Socialistic 'Living Wage' Hurts Business and Ruins Economies

In April 2003, the Arlington County Board approved the Fiscal Year 2004 that included nearly a million dollars to implement the so-called 'living wage.' The County Board set the living wage at $10.98 an hour even though the federal minimum is currently $5.15 per hour. In addition, Virginia Attorny General Kilgore issued an opinion that raises doubts of whether the County Board has the authority to implement the living wage policy. The County policy will include both its own employees and certain in-home service providers. In addition, in July, the Board extended the policy to its contractors. According to FrontPageMag.org, Sante Fe, New Mexico passed a law that goes even further since it applies to all buinesses in the city with 25 or more employees. The FrontPageMag.org article provides examples from small business owners of how the living wage has affected their businesses. Firms are fleeing the city, jobs are being lost, and small business owners being threatened with criminal penalties. So much for improving the environment for small business.

August 09, 2003

A tax revolt brewing in Wisconsin?

Color it red and blue! The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that in preparation of a veto override vote on Tuesday, the people of Wisconsin held the first of two rallies before the legislature tries to override the governor's veto of a bill passed by the Republican-controlled Senate and Assembly. The legislation would have limited municapalities "to increase property taxes only for new construction costs or by referendum. Schools would have been allowed to increase their revenue from property taxes by 2% in the first year of the budget and 1.6% in the second." Governor Jim Doyle (D) vetoed the legislation. Supporters of the freeze on property taxes wore blue to signify that "a freeze and represents blue-collar workers." Supporters of the governor's veto wore red.