Posted by: bkivey | 15 January 2010

Shooting yourself in the foot

On 13 January I wrote a post concerning the pending tax measures on the ballot for vote later this month. After having seen a couple of TV ads supporting the measures I can say that the best argument against voting for these initiatives is that the proponents of these measures can’t support them on the merits.

The primary message of both of the ads is that someone will pay more (but probably not you). In one of the ads much is made of the state minimum corporate income tax of $10, and the ad copy is written in such a way as to imply that companies such as Nike are paying $10 a year in income tax. In another ad the copy states that companies making less than $500,000/year and families making less than $250,000/yr. won’t see a tax increase.

Well, gee. What if I decide to start a business and, human nature being what it is, I want to make the business a success. Keeping in mind that the ‘trigger’ numbers for the tax increase are gross, not net, it doesn’t require much of a stretch of the imagination to see where even a modestly successful business might gross more than half a million a year, I’ve worked for several firms that employed fewer than ten people that grossed that much and more.

None of the ads I have seen mentions what the additional tax revenue is for or what performance metrics might be employed (hah!). The whole argument seems to be “Give us some more money! Because , uh, well; Don’t worry about it! Just give us some more money!” There is not even the illusion of argument on the merits, which naturally makes one wonder if there is an argument to be made. One of the tenants of rhetoric is that you make your strongest argument first. When the best argument that the proponents of these measure can make is that you (probably) won’t have to pay anything, that’s pretty weak sauce.

The other, and much more serious, effect is that the proposed tax increases are permanent and not indexed for inflation. This might not seem like such a big deal when you’re 19 and making $20,000/yr., but who knows where you’ll be in 30 or 40 years. A lot can and probably will change in that time. Politicians and social busybodies count on this sort of short-sightedness. So if you vote for a tax increase on ‘the rich’ and ‘evil corporations’ and then a few decades later find yourself complaining about your taxes, well, go look in the mirror.

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