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Archive for the ‘The Daily Response’ Category

The Tyranny of Low Taxes

Posted by Adam Graham on June 7, 2007

It’s time to respond to some Letters to the Editor. Victor Watson writes on Tuesday:

Recently, as a colleague and I discussed and exulted over the historic 68 percent supermajority passage of the community college, my friend commented that it was too bad a minority can dictate to the majority. She is absolutely correct. (Just to keep my comments in context, I am a conservative; no namby-pamby, tax-loving liberal am I. But I recognize that government entities have to be funded by the public.)

You always have to be a little careful when people make that claim, because it’s usually followed by a load of unconservativeness. The issue isn’t whether government has to be funded by the public, but how much and what the requirement should be for doing this:

In virtually every other referendum, including public elections, the simple majority wins. Conservatives have a fit if a minority ethnic or special-interest group pushes for privileges. “How can these minorities have such influence,” we demand. And we extol the virtues of majority rule in elections, carefully counting percentage points over 50 percent. In two other states as I participated in college tax referenda where a simple majority was the rule, we considered 61 percent of the vote a landslide. Yet in Idaho, it is not only a minority, but a super minority that can nullify a majority wish. We used to call that tyranny. Are there no legislators who will rid us of the tyranny of supermajority?

Peter Humm answers this quite well in yesterday’s letters:

I am getting tired of the griping from supporters of various bond issues about the requirement to get a two-thirds supermajority of voters to pass a tax increase. Most bond elections are deliberately scheduled to avoid the regular elections, which ensures a low turnout (25 percent of registered voters).

Bond issues that increase property taxes require only a two-thirds (67 percent) approval of those 25 percent of the registered voters. Two-thirds of only 25 percent of registered voters can therefore pass a tax increase that affects all property owners, and two-thirds of 25 percent is 16.7 percent of all registered voters (math: .25 times .667 equals .167). This is more like a tiny minority of all registered voters, not the supermajority you keep griping about. Pro-tax groups only have to persuade a tiny minority of 16.7 percent of registered voters to turn out and support their new tax. So please stop whining about needing a supermajority of voters.

Precisely. The first issue I voted on here in Idaho was a proposed Auditorium District in February, 2004. It contained Boise as well as Garden City. General polling places were closed. The vote was held in February. If memory serves me right, turnout was under 10%, in part because less than 10 polling places (which were not people’s usual places to vote) were used. What Mr. Watson seems to be saying is that in an election like that, that Majority should be able to committ all the property owners in the town to that proposition. No liberal has even come on this blog or their own blog to argue why this is right or fair. The requirement of 2/3 majority insures you have to work and get a lot of support before raising taxes.

We also live in a Republic, not a Democracy, and I find the idea that 2/3 of the people have to say yes comforting, that means before committing everyone’s money, we get a great deal of support which will lessen and mitigate possible resentment down the road.

In Tuesday’s letter, there was also an interesting letter from Daniel Forrey:

I believe divorce is being over-used and it’s making it too easy for people to end marriages. If divorce was outlawed people would think twice before getting married so fast. Today people go into a marriage thinking that they’re not obligated to commitment. They think that if it gets bad they can just take the easy way out and get divorced.

Divorce doesn’t just affect the couple. It could affect any kids they may have. Divorce is tearing families apart nationwide. Single-parent homes are unstable, financially as well as emotionally. In a divorce you have to split everything in half. Children are the main ones who get torn apart in a divorce. They get torn through things like custody battles and having to move around from place to place.

I understand the sentiment and Mr. Forrey has a great point. Of course, we can’t end divorce because there are still legitimate reasons for it. I favor an approach like that taken by Frank Keating with the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative has had some success in reducing divorce and it’s an approach I support: providing education and support for marriages within the state.

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Daily Response: It’s Been a Long Time

Posted by Adam Graham on June 4, 2007

I started this blog doing a daily response, but gave up after 5 or 6 months of responding to Statesman letters to the editor. I’m going to go ahead and try it out to day and see what happens. From today’s Statesmen, a complaint about the Community College from Duane Martin:

What happened to the $200 million we were already overtaxed that was earmarked for schools? Isn’t the community college a school? Why didn’t they just use some of that money and then replace it later with the money made by the college?

I assume he’s referring to the Sales Tax increase that was tied to property tax reductions. That’s the difference between money for public schools and post-secondary education.

And why are the supporters of this thing allowed to send out unsolicited absentee ballots to potential supporters? Isn’t that illegal, or at least an abuse of the absentee ballot system? If they were going to abuse the system like that, they should have been forced to send absentee ballots to everyone, not just potential supporters.

Illegal, no. An abuse of the system. Maybe. Let’s be clear, I didn’t just receive one absentee ballot request (not an actual ballot. Thanks to the Bubblehead for the correction in the comments.), I’d to have gotten like four. I feared this whole thing would lead to a backlash. Still, they played by the rules we have in place. If you don’t like them, call your legislator. This doesn’t have much to do with the merits of the college though.

So now property owners get to pay for a community college most will never use while non-property owners, again, will not have to pay for anything.

A couple things. First, having gone to Community College in Kalispell, I’ll attest that many if not most students were either homeowners or their kids, and a fully developed college will offer classes for the whole community. As for non-property owners not paying anything, they’ll not pay anything directly, but they’ll see it in their rent. Remember rental property does not come with a home owner’s exemption and landlords all pass the taxes on to their tenants, so yes everyone will pay, some will just see it more directly.

Big corporations backed the building of the college, so why didn’t they privately fund it?

Great portions of it are being privately funded, as well as the state chipping in $5 million. The taxpayers of Ada and Canyon County are only playing a small portion.

The whole process has just been flat out wrong and unfair to the property owners of Ada and Canyon counties, and I really hope someone out there takes legal action to block this thing considering how the system was abused.

You can sue, but you’ve got no case. The people vote. Accept it, don’t be a sorehead.

Thomas John Caldwell writes:

The passing of HR 1592 on Tuesday, May 8, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and disabled people could be protected as well. The 1999 Hate Crimes Act slowed down the percent of crimes being committed, but it didn’t protect everybody. Society must accept the idea that we’re all individuals and our likes and dislikes vary. We live in a country founded on the basis of equality and freedom, but the government’s willingness to except different people under their rule is never-ceasing.

So society must accept we’re all individuals by passing a law that punishes crimes against different groups of people differently. Say what?

John Wynn writes:

It was disappointing to see that the Idaho Statesman won a lawsuit to be the only newspaper in Boise that can print legal notices in the future. In doing so, the court effectively eliminated competition in the marketplace for the publishing of legal notices.

Really, I think the Statesman’s the primary thing that’s read in this valley other than the Bible (where we can’t print legal notices.) If there’s any solace, those days are numbered with new technologies on the horizon the decline of newspapers in general.

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A Tough to Enforce Law

Posted by Adam Graham on May 16, 2007

Someone writes a Letter to the Editor complaining about License Plate laws not being enforced:

It appears from observing the large number of vehicles without a front license plate in Ada County that it is no longer necessary to display a front license plate in Idaho. Oh, it is still on the books and every vehicle owner is given two plates to be displayed, but law enforcement won’t stop you. I have even called the Ada County Sheriff’s Office about this common violation and was told that it wasn’t a high priority and that “we have other things to do.”

Hmmm, a lot of potential income on tickets is being lost because officers won’t enforce an obvious violation of the law. You can keep driving those one-plate vehicles. You won’t be stopped.

As some of the commenters at Unequivocal Notion have pointed out the police indeed do have better things to do.

I also think the letter writer is missing a key point. Police officers approach cars from behind usually and spotting a front license plate violation can be a challenge. True, they may spot it in a car beside them, in which case all they have to do is slow down, change lanes, get behind them and flash the lights. This can be a difficult arrangement.

Truth be told, I don’t think we really need the front license plate (yes, I still have mine.) We only need the back license plate because that’s what people see. The front is redundant and police can do better focusing on real criminals.

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Loving the Wolves

Posted by Adam Graham on May 12, 2005

What is the insanity with the left and wolves? I mean a normal sane human being does not want a wolf within a mile of them, but the left sees these things as essential and is pushing us to reintroduce them in areas where people have overwhelmed them. This is nuts.

Ted Armstrong didn’t have much sympathy for an outfitter who lost three hunting dogs to the wolves recently. In today’s letters to the editor, he writes

It is ironic that the outfitter assumes no risk as he enters an area known as wolf habitat. It is laughable that he believes the federal government is responsible for his loss. It is irresponsible when it is considered that this is the same federal government that allows him to hunt the land at little or virtually no cost. It is pathetic that we have come to the point where even an outfitter, the embodiment of strength and independence, assumes the victim’s role.

To an extent, he’s right, but the Federal government introduced the wolves and unlike the Black Bear he was hunting, he couldn’t even shoot the wolf legally without getting a huge fine for destroying an endangered species.

So, as we reintroduce bloodthirsty predators to harm the lives of humans and domesticated animals, we should perhaps form a new phrase, “Build a Better Mousetrap and the left will make the mouse an endangered species.”

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