Monday, December 1, 2008

by Steve Fair

The late Ronald Reagan defined the taxpayer as, “someone who works for the federal government, but doesn't have to take the civil service examination.” Reagan also said, “Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the Democrats believe every day is April 15.” The late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, “There is no such thing as a good tax.”

My all time favorite quote about taxation is from Jean Baptiste Colbert, who was Louis XIV’s tax collector. He said, “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to get the most feathers with the least hissing." Republicans are like the hissing goose—they hate taxes!

I am a great admirer of Sir Winston but I must disagree with him about all taxes being bad. It is rare you will find a Republican supporting a tax, because Republicans by definition are “against” excessive taxes. I haven’t researched it, but it’s likely a guy named Fair was involved in the Boston Tea Party.

Next Tuesday, Duncan voters will consider the renewal of one half-cent sales tax to fund economical development in our area. The “tax” is renewed every five years. It was created back in 1995 to create an economic development fund that could be used to help existing business grow and attract new industry to Duncan and Stephens County. The “tax” generates about 1.2 million annually and has proven itself to be a good investment and spend of taxpayer dollars.

For example, since the DAEDF begin collecting the tax, the labor force in Duncan has increased by over four thousand jobs—a twenty percent increase. The per capita income for families has increased, and the hourly wages have jumped by over a third in just the past seven years. The DAEDF desires a great deal of the credit for those increases.

Ronald Reagan was an advocate for “supply side” economics. Supply-side economics is a school of macroenomic theory that argues that economic growth can be most effectively created using incentives for people to produce (supply) goods and services, such as adjusting income tax and capital gain tax rates. Reagan wasn’t the first Presdient to advocate such a theory. Democrat John F. Kennedy used much the same economic philosphy in 1961. Kennedy cut taxes and famously said, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Some scaratically call the theory “trickle down economics,” but it’s a proven fact that any action taken economically doesn’t just stop with the first receiver—it multiples, often several times.

The DAEDF tax is a tide that lifts all boats, because it benefits everyone. Because of the economic development within our community, there are less social ills. Unemployment and welfare benefits in communities with high employement rates are lower. Real estate values increase because the demand for property is high. Muncipal and county governments have more revenue because of increased sales volume in local retail outlets. The value doesn’t just “trickle” down—it often flows down rapidly to benefit everyone.

On November 13th, at the regular monthly meeting of the Stephens County GOP, DAEDF foundation President, Lyle Roggaw was our guest speaker. Speaking before a group of political activists that can be best described as “extremely” fiscally conservative and skeptical of all taxes, Roggaw had the challenge of convincing them to support the renewal of the tax. He did an outstanding job of explaining what the DAEDF foundation’s objectives are and what the DAEDF does with the money the sales tax generates. He also highlighted a number of the success stories—local companies that had expanded, businesses that relocated to Duncan.

After a question and answer session in which Mr. Roggaw answered a number of tough questions, a motion was made and seconded. After some additional discussion, the Stephens County Republican Party voted unanimously to support the renewal of the DAEDF sales tax. It’s rare that Republicans agree on anything unanimously, much less a tax, but the local GOP recognizes this tax is an investment.

Sometimes taxes are a good thing. They remind us that we live in a society, that we have collective responsibilities, that we need to pool our thoughts and energies to make progress on certain issues. The DAEDF tax is one of those taxes. It partners with private industry to create jobs which in turn growsour community. Don’t think of this as a tax—think of it as an investment in your children and grandchildren’s future. Vote yes for jobs on Tuesday.

No comments: