Welcome to Liberrants, a blog dedicated to editorials, discussions, and studies of all things libertarian. Don't let the title mislead you; it's merely my attempt to be creative in describing myself as a "hopeful curmudgeon" who embraces the goal of the free, peaceful, economically vibrant society envisioned by America's founding fathers. Jump in! Contribute! Enjoy!

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Location: Tucson, Arizona, United States

A critically thinking curmudgeon whose goal, in addition to creatively venting about the imperfect world in which we live, is to induce critical thinking in others. The ultimate goal is to help bring about a peaceful world in which we can all live in freedom.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Arizona's Moronic Electorate Lives Down To Its Reputation (As Usual) – Enacts Proposition 100

Surprise, surprise. The functional and political illiterates that make up the majority of the Grand Canyon State's registered voters have decided, apparently by a very large margin (said to be 64 percent) to pay money they don't have --”temporarily”, of course-- to fund programs they don't need and can't afford. That's right, folks - as expected, Proposition 100 passed.

I just scratch my head at the idea that the intelligence-insulting TV ads that ran for weeks leading up to yesterday's election exhorting us to “pay up or face loss of services” (none of which, once again, are needed or the proper province of government) somehow convinced the broke inhabitants of a bankrupt state that they should pay MORE of what little money they have left in their pockets to a corrupt and inept government that has failed them abysmally. But then again, most of this state's population lacks intelligence to insult. The bulk of this state's population, after all, consists of retirees and underemployed or unemployed blue-collar laborers whose jobs have gone south of the border or overseas, or have disappeared altogether in the housing bubble implosion. Why such people believed it would be a good idea to add to their already exorbitant state sales tax rate to fund “programs” that either don't serve them at all or are so dysfunctional and broken as to be beyond salvage is simply beyond reckoning. So too is the apparent inability of the majority to grasp the idea that if the politicians are mismanaging (read: wasting) the money they're getting now, how is giving them MORE money going to bring fiscal discipline? That such an obvious question could apparently be so completely ignored speaks highly of the spin-masters retained by the state and the interests that control it to create and spread the propaganda. The reason 100 passed, of course, is that a growing percentage of this state's “working” population consists of “public sector 'employees'”, represented by loud and politically muscular unions, who would be the beneficiaries of these new taxes.

While not one person with whom I have spoken in the past 24 hours voted for Prop 100, those who did vote for it and appeared on local “news” programs or in the local dead-tree state mouthpiece articles all spewed forth one common theme: “It's only a penny, and it's only for three years.” Not having seen any substantive responses to this fallacious way of "thinking", let me offer some of my own.

First of all, leaving the fundamental immorality of any tax aside, let's face the fact that, state media bullshit to the contrary notwithstanding, there is not and NEVER HAS BEEN any such thing as a “temporary” tax! Does anyone remember the telephone tax repealed five years or six years ago that had been in effect since 1898 in order to fund the frigging Spanish-American War? This tax would never have been repealed at all had it not been for the discovery of its purpose by an interested citizens group that had the resources to pressure Congress to get rid of it (and, fortunately for us, the fact the Dubya, already in the throes of an unpopular foreign war, wanted to create a smokescreen for by making himself out to be a “tax reliever”). While this is an egregious example, it demonstrates the “ratchet effect” of taxes, which works in the same way as the “ratchet effect” of laws: once enacted, taxes, like laws, are never completely and permanently repealed, even after the ostensible reason for them no longer exists.

Second, it's not “just a penny” we're talking about here. While graduates of this state's abominable and dysfunctional “publik skoolz” can perhaps be forgiven for swallowing the propaganda BS at face value and regurgitating it as ignorant twaddle, let's look at the facts. The real impact of Proposition 100 is best summarized by this paragraph published on the Americans For Prosperity web site:

Changing the state sales tax rate from 5.6 cents per dollar to 6.6 cents per dollar is a rate increase of 18 percent. Further, all things equal, it would result in an 18-percent increase in the dollars you pay in state sales taxes. If the average family in Arizona buys $40,000 a year in taxable goods, the taxes paid at a 5.6 cent rate are $2,240. If the rate goes up to 6.6 cents, the taxes paid would be $2,640. Pull out your handy calculator and divide $2,640 by $2,240, and you'll see that the average family is paying 18 percent more in taxes than it did before the rate change. That's an increase of $400 a year, or $1,200 during the three years of the Brewer Tax. (Now, the reality is that the rate increase will cause many taxable transactions to not occur--what the economists call the "deadweight loss" caused by a tax increase. Faced with the higher tax rate, the average family would probably end up buying less than $40,000 in taxable goods, meaning that the government will get less than $2,640, and the effective increase in taxes paid will be somewhat less than 18 percent.)

Hopefully even those who are arithmetically challenged will see that the “one penny” line of reasoning doesn't wash. Indeed, I can hardly wait for all of the caterwauling about “high prices” to spew forth after June 1st (the date this abomination takes effect) from the mouths of the very same morons who voted in favor of this abomination. My readers can guess what my response to their bitching will be.

Finally, the always-useless (aren't they all?) Arizona Libertarian Party says not one single word about this critical issue on its web site. But then again, that shouldn't surprise us either, since its web site, like those of all of its county affiliates, hasn't been updated in months or years. Can someone please remind me again why the LP continues to be irrelevant to the cause of liberty?