More Taxation Please
by Mustang (Our man on the beat in the U.K.)
Taxes pay for the government (local, state, federal) and common use infrastructure, such as highways and bridges. We all know this, of course, and can appreciate why these taxes must be paid. Infrastructure supports commerce, and commerce fuels the economy. So far, so good. But there are other reasons for taxes that many of us find objectionable. Here are a few of these:
- Foreign aid, macro-organized welfare programs, and offering free education and medical care for illegal aliens might top the list, but then liberal politicians make no bones about the fact that taxation allows for the redistribution of income. Robbery, some would say … stealing from Peter to pay Paul.
- We must also pay the salaries of government employees. There are literally millions of local, state, and federal employees, such that after a while, we might wonder … is government ever big enough to administer all government’s programs? Apparently not, and depending on where these employees work, their salaries can be quite hefty. How does any rational person justify the salaries of members of Congress (as high as $190,000.00 annually)? Do they really earn this kind of money in terms of the services they provide? And of course, the more employees there are, the more buildings we need to house them, the higher the cost of their benefits, and the longer-term retirement program obligations.
But there are other reasons to tax the crap out of people. Enforcement of rules and regulations is one of these, and punishment for behaving in a certain way. Sin taxes come to mind —and seat-belt laws that are less about public safety than they are about collecting revenues.
Here in England, one community has decided that punishment is a good reason for taxes … no, not fines, but an actual increase in taxes.
So, you own a home. You want to sell it, but the market isn’t quite right. Or perhaps, you might want to rent it out, but you need a minimum amount of rent in order to meet your mortgage payment obligations. Maybe you inherited the property and it needs substantial repairs; you can’t afford that right now. No matter.
The Wychavon (pronounced Witch Haven) district council has decided that if you are the owner of an unoccupied home, and if the property has been unoccupied for more than two years, your county taxes will be doubled. Yes, that’s right —doubled. If you happen not to like this arrangement, then either move into the property, sell it, or rent it … but until you do one of these two things, thou shalt bepunished. The council complains that there are 148 homes in their district that have been unoccupied for more than two years; half of those for more than five years. Something has to be done.
District council spokesperson Vic Allison explained: “The intention of this revised legislation is to encourage and bring back empty homes into use. We have a shortage of housing and leaving properties empty is not helping that.” He was joined by councilman Gerry O’Donnell, who said, “Anything that is a disincentive to having empty houses is to be welcomed in my view and this is one way of doing itthat has a bonus of income.”
Of course, the civic logic of this decision makes little sense: Punish people for having unoccupied properties? Who leaves a property unoccupied just for the fun of it? Perhaps Vic and Gerry aren’t making enough money as councilmen, and so to increase revenues, they’re happy to punish home-owners. This conclusion may seem a bit disingenuous, but the increase in annual revenues will exceed £120,000. Easily enough to be able to afford a new car for council members, maybe several suites of new office furniture, an upgrade to office computers —a more robust happy hour at the end of the month.
I suspect that council or board meetings here in England are much like those back home. Have you ever attended one? There are rules to be followed, of course, and not everyone is entitled to speak to council members unless certain requirement have been met. These may include (but are not limited to) a demand that your stated concerns are pre-approved for public meetings, that your remarks are limited to a certain amount of time, and that you promise not to lose your temper or threaten council members.
Then, whenever speakers are allowed to address the council, such an address must take place after the regular business meeting. People have actually died from boredom during these council meetings. This is one of the reason people try NOT to attend them. School board meetings are like this, too. This is how boards and councils are able to pass so much idiotic rules and regulations without public outcry … no one wants to sit through these meetings.
This tirade won’t change the way things are done … neither here, nor back home. It only underscores the arrogance of “elected officials,” illustrates how these minor despots are able to get away with so much, and points to how easily citizen’s rights are legally thwarted by bureaucrats and minor officials. It is a world-wide phenomenon. Government is a curse to humanity, but then I suspect it has always been thus.
I feel better now … sort of.