No, I am not going to comment on power pop, classic rock, the British Invasion or Rick Nielsen's quintuple-neck guitar. Just thought I'd start off today's post, which deals with taxation, by reminding Posse readers of these two great bands' contributions to anti-tax sentiment.
The late Beatles guitarist George Harrison penned a catchy tune -- "Taxman" -- on the masterful 1966 album "Revolver." I love the bitter and sardonic lyrics, and the guitar riffs ain't too shabby, either! Cheap Trick, they of Rockford, Illinois, featured "Taxman, Mr. Thief" on their unheralded, obscure, but kickass debut album in 1977.
Now on to the real purpose of this post -- those who regularly read the Posse realize that I often like to meander circuitously en route to my thesis... So here goes:
Taxes to governments are like alcohol to the alcoholic. The governing bodies, be they local, state or federal, are absolutely, positively, completely, totally ADDICTED to raking in greater and greater amounts of dollars to piss away on their harebrained schemes. Granted, some of the revenue -- in many cases, the majority of it -- goes toward useful and effective programs and necessities such as roads, schools, and public safety agencies.
But far too often, large chunks of budgets go toward pork barrel / crony capitalism projects, bloated public pensions and the like. The same paradigm exists in higher education, in which dreamy academic bureaucrats keep sticking students with higher and higher tuition to fund administrative overhead and pie-in-the-sky construction projects. Folks from sea to shining sea are crying "UNCLE!"
A couple years ago, I warned that Uncle Sam was licking its chops at private pensions, and would soon strive to bleed this source of revenue dry. Well, now we have a state government -- Maine -- that is considering requiring nonprofits such as charities and hospitals to pay property taxes.
Republican Gov. Paul LePage announced in his Jan. 7 inauguration speech that he wants to tax colleges, hospitals and large charities. On the positive side, his purpose is to provide the revenue to cut taxes for Maine families and small businesses. So I cannot say LePage's proposal is without merit.
However, nonprofits of all sizes and types are a vital part of what makes America by far the world's greatest country. Millions of volunteers help these organizations function, providing an array of vital services such as tutoring, delivering hot meals to shut-ins, providing seniors with transportation to doctors' appointments, staffing soup kitchens and homeless shelters, mentoring troubled youths and cleaning up parks. It would be an unnecessary kick-in-the-gut to force these organizations, many operating on shoe-string budgets, to pay property taxes.
It would also be inconsistent policy to those who believe governments in general need to tighten their belts and eliminate waste. If governments don't provide certain services, volunteers often fill the gap. And since their hearts are in it, they are more likely to provide effective, conscientious service with some element of compassion and the human touch -- qualities that can be missing when a government employee is "just doing his job" and cares mostly about collecting a paycheck. (This description DOES NOT apply across the board. I am certain there are untold numbers of qualified, conscientious public employees who really do care about their fellow human beings!)
While it is true that many tax-exempt organizations including churches and labor unions flagrantly and frequently violate the terms of their tax-exempt status by promoting political positions and candidates, that's a discussion for another day. I fear that Gov. LePage's proposal will turn on a lightbulb inside the heads of statists everywhere -- ("Damn, that's a GREAT IDEA! Why didn't WE think of that?)
In fact, I'll go out on a limb and predict that Maine's brainstorm will be taken up by many other governments -- state and local -- in the next couple of years. This definitely is an issue over which the Tea Party groups ought to do battle (along with the likely upcoming pension raids). Remember, the anti-big government, anti-high tax movement is not named simply in remembrance of the Boston Tea Party. TEA is an acronym for "Taxed Enough Already." On that, we can all agree!