Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Forty Days of Frivolity and Fooling

Georgia’s legislative session has started; it lasts for “forty” days. It will take longer than that as they mess with the clock and the calendar.

I’ve said in the past that the short term is a good thing, there’s only so much harm they can do. This year, they are further constrained by the fact that we are broke, to the tune of a $2 billion shortfall. That’s just the state, not the lesser governmental entities. They’re broke and looking to the Legislature for money. Fat chance unless the Governor or one of the other honchos is from their part of the state.

They are going to consider many of the things they do each year. Sunday liquor sales to infuriate Fermi and me – it won’t pass. Some of our representatives want to be able to kill people on a 9 – 3 or 10 – 2 jury vote. They’ll tinker with our sex offender laws so that a court next year can find their latest measure yet again unconstitutional.

They all swear there will be no pork this year. And pigs do fly.

The ugly word, taxes, is making its way into the media. Some say no, hell no! They and their fellows then, quietly, say let’s add a buck to the price of a pack of cigarettes, ten bucks on the price of your car tags (license plates for you Yankees), a quarter levy on one of the multiple line items on one or more of your utility bills that everyone complains about, but no one looks at. They know that last part.

I’ve long railed about add-on charges, be they for goods, services or government. I want to know up front what something costs. I don’t want tacked on “amenities,” “security,” or other fees at a hotel. I don’t want fuel surcharges from FedEx and UPS. If I order a coffee, I don’t expect a “cup” charge over and above the menu price. Tell me what the price is and I’ll pay it, or not.

But that’s what government does to us. It hides the ball. We know what the sales tax is. Some of us know what the income tax and property tax rates are. But it’s the little add-ons that no one pays attention to that governments have come to depend on to feed their spending sprees.

None of our state officials are talking about cutting government spending. Not that I have any say in the matter; but, that should be the first step, spend less money. If you can’t cut enough, increase taxes; but, tell me upfront: the new income tax, property tax, sales tax rates are X, Y and Z. We’ll get that right after I can buy a six-pack on a Sunday.


dr sardonicus said...

Big day in the Tennessee legislature today as the Democrats punked the GOP big time. Republicans in the last election won a 50-49 majority in the state House, their first since Reconstruction. Seeking to press their advantage, they nominated one of their most conservative members for Speaker. The Democrats savvily nominated not a fellow Democrat, but a moderate Republican with a reputation of working across the aisle. The vote went along party lines and was tied 49-49 when the moderate the Dems nominated voted for himself. Outraged Republicans are threatening to kick the new Speaker out of the party, but if they do that he says he'll join the Democrats and hand the majority back to them.

Anonymous said...

I wonder sometimes how much money we really get to keep, after income tax, sales tax, and all the other little sundry taxes and fees are added together.

Personally, I favor a 100% "death tax." People can accumulate as much wealth as their greedy little hears desire while they are alive, but when they die, it all goes to the state. No more dynasties: the kids will have to earn their own money. The Kennedys, Bushs, and Hiltons will be against it, but I bet most people would come out ahead with that plan.

Dave said...

I'm not there yet; but, I think the FairTax isn't a bad idea. One tax on what you buy. Estimates of its percentage vary. It would also get rid of the sham of "taxing" corporations that pass on what they are charged to their customers. The values? No IRS, no other little things that you don't notice. The biggest value of it is that people would no longer work, invest and plan based on tax avoidance as you can't avoid it if you spend.

Jeni said...

Hmmm. Pennsylvania has the same problems -budgetary concerns ya know -but cutting spending never seems to come up. Aside from the crappy cold weather we get here, compared to Georgia, we do have one thing going for us that you might want to consider as something to entice you away from the south. Pennsylvania has Sunday Sales -of BEER!

DaleC said...

ThomasLB - one of the reasons people work so hard is to pass it on to others. One of the best ways to elevated entire generations out of poverty is inheritance, which is one reason poor people should be FOR privatizing Social Security. The vast majority of reall wealhy people made it themselves, rather than inheriting it. The biggest opposition should come from the middle class who use inheritance to elevate entire generations to follow. ANY "death tax" is immoral.

For a clue about the REAL tax burden, pickup "The Greedy Hand" by Amity Schlaes. If you are in the lowest Fed tax bracket, you still pay a little over 50% after all the hidden taxes.

Dave - ditto on the Fair Tax. We are spending a trillion or more to "stimulate" the economy when the Fair Tax would bring back to these shores the majority of the $ 13 Trillion dollars that have been sent offshore for tax protection. It's a no-brainer.

I discovered the hidden taxes a few years ago. I wanted a box to hold lots of small electronic connectors and adapters, so I went to Wally World for a tackle box. I told the guy in the sporting goods department what I was doing and he told me to go to the arts and crafts section. I could buy the same box, by the same manufacturer but in a different color for $ 10 less becasue there was no fisheries managemtn excise tax on the "sewing" box. The ax was $ 10 an the sewing box was less than $ 20.

The Curmudgeon said...

Illinois used to have an off year for the legislature, too. I can't remember exactly how it worked -- it's been awhile -- but, wow, have we improved since we went to annual sessions, huh?

Yesterday, our beloved Governor swore in the new State Senate (he had to be excused from appearing for a status hearing in Chicago in his criminal case in order to discharge this constitutional duty) and then the Senate welcomed emissaries from the House (no, that's not the correct word but it was used to such great effect by our Governor in recent telephone calls) bringing with them the impeachment documents....

Ah, fun times.