Let's raise taxes. NOT!

COLUMBIA, 11/4/12 (Op Ed) --
News that Columbia's Heart of Missouri United Way is putting the arm on Mizzou employees has lots of people I know furious, especially in the face of tax increase propositions designed to benefit United Way-style missions, notably mental health care and education.


Between private donations and public taxation, people are asking: When is enough enough? On Tuesday's tax increase wish list: Proposition 1 and Proposition B. After so many rounds of city rate and fee hikes, property tax hikes, and the drone of donation hustling, I'm voting NO on both.


Proposition B seeks tax hikes on that favorite target -- smokes -- for those favorite political reasons: higher taxes raise prices and will reduce smoking. But as wise economists will tell you, that's ridiculous. Cigarettes and other tobacco products have what's called an "inelastic demand curve," meaning the quantity people demand doesn't change much with higher prices. 

Smokes are addictive, silly politicians!  Tax them all you want.  You won't reduce smoking or significantly change the number of people -- youth and adult -- who start to smoke.  (Disclosure: I don't smoke and never have.  I think it's a disgusting habit!)

Prop. B will also supposedly fund something called the Health and Education Trust Fund. Trust me: Trust Fund Politics is an oxymoron. The money will end up wherever politicians want it, just like casino taxes, lottery proceeds, and so forth.


Proposition 1 is a repeat of a 2006 move to increase sales taxes for a laudable goal: mental health care, a move I supported MIGHTILY -- in 2006.

But that was before Boone County government hiked sales taxes to pay for a vast new courthouse and office space expansion, telling the mental health folks to shove off.

Now, taxes, fees, utility bills -- non-profit donation requests -- and other costs are just too darned high. The County made its choice, so coming along now for yet more money -- much of it from lower-income folks -- isn't right.


Voters and taxpayers need a break from politicians and non-profits constantly demanding MORE (then having the audacity -- or is it gall -- to shill for policy issues like Blight).


Times are tough, and while taxpayer-supported administrators pushing for these tax hikes make 6-figure salaries (CPS Supt. Christopher Belcher, please rise) or get 25% raises (several Mizzou admins, please rise), the people paying for all this are not even close.