Friday, August 27, 2010

The Stupidity Ladder

The Stupidity Ladder
Kevin Bryant

Every step up the political ladder from the local school board to the state assembly to the White House itself you see a slimy trail of stupidity smearing almost every step. Now there are those rare exceptions when a step gets missed such as with the current occupant of the New Jersey’s governor’s mansion but it’s getting harder and harder to find those steps.

Here lately it seems that the more I pay attention to local politics here in the KC metro the more I am convinced that I and my neighbors am a geniuses and the only stupid people in the area serve on city councils and school boards. These people have to be stupid because they are the only ones believing the things they are doing makes any sense.

Example #1: Mission Kansas Driveway Tax

What a great idea, punish businesses and burden residents with another stupid tax, this one based on how much traffic follows through your neighborhood. Every resident will be required to pay about $72 a year to the city while businesses, depending on how successful they are can pay anywhere from $3000 to over $65,000 a year. What a great way to encourage new business to come to your town, or keep the ones you have from packing up and leaving. If I am a small business owner in Mission and I am renting the building I am in, you can bet your favorite donkey I will be closing up shop and moving to a new area of the metro as soon as my lease is up. As for the residence, if you own your home, you are stuck paying the new tax. The housing market here stinks to high heaven and it’s doubtful your house is going to sell anytime soon, so you are stuck. Then you are more likely going to get shafted even harder in the coming years when businesses leave and the city is again strapped for cash. That $72 tax you got slammed with could easily double to make up for lost revenue.

Example #2: Property Tax Increase

There seems to be an epidemic on the number of cities around the metro that have decided to increase property taxes. The excuses are all the same. We must raise taxes so we don’t have to lay off teachers or firemen. So, bump up the property tax because property values are down. No one said anything about lowering property taxes when the values go up. Well over 50% of all households have seen some kind of change in household income over the past 2 years and in over 30% of those homes, the income levels have decreased. Many property owners now make less than they did in 2006 but the cost of living has increased. Instead of cities tightening their own belts, they want to squeeze the property owners some more. There comes a point where the owners can no longer afford to pay more with less and they are going to forfeit their house. Then what do you do, invent a city wide renters tax for people who lost their homes to foreclosure? Go after the bank that just repossessed the house?

Here’s a great idea: cut some fat off the city budget. Here are a few examples you can start with. City council members will not receive more than $2000 salary per year or $3000 per calendar year in salary and other compensation. Reduce the number of city employees making more than $60K per year by 20%. Those making more than $40K but less than $60K, reduce the number of employees by 10%. Reduce the number of employees making less than $40K per year by 5%. Reduce salaries across the board back to 2006 levels. Mandate a 10% across the board reduction in the budget for all departments. Restructure pension plans so retirees aren’t making 120% of the salary they were drawing when they were working. Tell the teacher’s union and other local unions to accept pay reductions of face layoffs.

No matter at what the level of government you are dealing with, you will find those who believe there will never be a shortage of other people’s money for them to spend.

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