Just As I Thought

The Fiscal Conservative Liberal

Tax proponents here in Santa Clara County are up in arms today because voters yesterday defeated a proposed 1/2¢ sales tax increase. We already pay 8.25% tax on purchases; this may not seem like it’s incredibly high when compared to, say, Maryland or DC or some other localities, but in addition to that sales tax, we also pay all kinds of fees for things, which is just a fancy word for, yes, tax.
So it’s hardly surprising that people decided not to tax themselves more. Those who were for this tax claim it was designed to “rescue the financially imperiled BART extension to Silicon Valley and restore health services for the poor.” The only problem is, the tax wasn’t earmarked for those purposes. Instead, it was headed right for the general fund, with no restrictions on how it would be spent. This is the first tax proposal that didn’t have specific directives on how it should be spent, and people here are already hopping mad over such wise expenditures as $4 million to subsidize the San Jose Grand Prix. Imagine how much health care for the poor that $4,000,000 could have provided.
The BART extension was being planned — and in financial jeopardy — when I was here in 1980. 26 years later, it’s still no closer to being started. In 26 years, millions of dollars could have been invested in upgrading the existing commuter rail services and the creation of a more useful light rail system around San Jose (a boondoggle if ever I saw one, with empty trains that don’t actually go anywhere that anyone wants to go).
There is a pervading sickness here in California that you never cut back, never spend money wisely, because you can always tax and fee people to get more money. I’m being soaked and squeezed for tax revenue as it is, unemployed and living on savings. What is it getting me? Maybe I should start applying for some of those famous California benefits?


  • I don’t know that much about CA politics, but it seemed alot of the trouble that ended up with the Governator in charge was really the legislators abdicating their responsibility and turning everything over to these voter referendums that capped real estate taxes, and otherwise hamstrung the government’s ability to raise money.

    The supposed beauty or a representative democracy is that you have people who spend all their time studying the issues and making wise decisions in the best interests of the people, and not allowing mob rule, which is basically what these referendums are.

  • Oh, yeah. The big problem here is the direct democracy, where any yahoo (left or right) can get a proposition on the ballot. Opening every tiny little thing up to public vote is ridiculous, because you can count on people to vote solely for their own self-interest. That’s why we have to do our best to elect intelligent and honorable people to the legislature — and we can’t even seem to do that.
    People in California have repeatedly voted to establish huge entitlement programs and spendthrift legislation, without thinking of how much all this government costs and who will pay for it. It’s no different than condo owners who want new sidewalks or big landscaping projects or longer pool hours, but don’t want to raise the fees.
    If direct democracy were the way the entire country worked, we’d have never given the vote to women, never allowed desegregation, and we certainly would not allow anyone other than land-owning white men to have any power… oh, wait.

  • The democracy “of, by, and for” the “land-owning white men” is running just fine, thank you; just as it was designed. Unfortunately for you and I, the traits required to rule ethically and magnanimously and the characteristics required to get elected are diametrically opposed.

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