Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What We Talk About When We Talk About Taxes (Wednesday LINKS)

It is looking to be a near certainty that the State Legislature will be passing across the board income tax increases for all Marylanders by the end of this legislative session to make up for a $1 billion budget gap.  Blue-staters have a seemingly laid back approach to tax increases.  If this were Virginia, or even Pennsylvania, I think we could presume that legislators would be terrified to vote for an income tax increase for fear of finding themselves back among the citizenry.

In Maryland, we're boiling frogs.  As long as it is slow and those tax increases are spread out amongst enough "pressure points" (i.e., pay stub, gas pump, toll roads), we're good.

I keep coming back to a poll I was told about last year about Howard County voters.  They were asked "Are you taxed: a) Too much, b) Just enough, or c) Not enough."  According to the person recounting this poll, the majority of respondents checked "Just enough" with the second place answer being "Not enough."  Basic human sociology-psychology would presume that the answer would be "Too much", regardless of one's satisfaction with the services provided.

And for those that feel you are "Taxed Enough Already", it seems that you are left to write the minority report.  The fiction we tell ourselves is that the failure to raise taxes paired with "necessary cuts" will result in a new status quo that is just as good as today, but without new taxes.  Let's cut the safety net...and see what desperate people do without it.  Less government services...without any certainty that the free market is better suited.

I'm not saying that tax increases are necessary.  In fact, I think the State government has the tiger by the tail and is just throwing red meat at its face.  We need significant budget reform in this State with a paired effort to deleverage reliance on the federal government for funds (with strings attached), but that's just my opinion.  Others may think that the legislature knows whats best.  Either way, we're all paying for it.


Maryland may be going to an all electronic toll collecting system.  The greatest danger here is that it may make tolls just too easy to pass up.  Some transportation advocates have suggested making all roads "toll roads" by installing a universal EZ-Pass of sorts into our cars.  Drive less, pay less. 

Reading the press on last night's primaries, and Santorum's "crucial" wins, I couldn't help but think about this article about why the Mainstream Media hates Mitt Romney.  Romney has this thing in the bag.  It is all but wrapped up.  Saying otherwise expresses a disappointing failure in basic math skills.  Yet the media is following this like it is a neck-and-neck horse race.  I am no big Romney fan, but it is becoming too much to ignore.

The Anne Arundel County Council has hired a lawyer to defend them in a lawsuit by former Council-person Daryl Jones, who currently sits in a federal prison.  Said lawyer wrote the Council a "blistering letter" about how their inability to fill Jones's vacancy has undermined his ability to defend their vote to remove him.  This would be a very difficult client to fire.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: Sarah transcribes a portion of the most recent And Then There's That podcast, which, by itself, would merit a FBPD mention, but she also does a great job boring down on the issue of "diversity."  I agree with her that Dr. Ball was directly on point on this issue, but I would suggest that there is a bit of identity politics here. The premise is that this Board is not diverse.  Now we get to think about "why" and I think it has a least something to do with race.

Have a great Wednesday doing what you love!