The payoffs, the rip-offs, the things nobody saw – No new Taxes in Taney County Editorial
The government's view of the economy can summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving subsidize it. - Ronald Reagan
The quote above was published in the header of the BDI yesterday. It should be used as a guide to the remaining content of the articles published today.
To expand on the quote, there are several ways to direct the flow of the economy.
If you want something to grow/prosper:
1. Subsidize it
2. Reduce Taxation on the product
3. Tax the alternatives
4. Regulate the alternative
If you want to destroy something
1. Subsidize the Alternatives
2. Tax it
3. Reduce taxation on the alternatives
4. De-regulate the alternative
The issue in Taney County is tourism. Complaints about the level of taxation in Branson is already a deterrent to tourism. Rumblings are heard throughout the free-press.
But, let's for a moment discuss the pay-to-play press. What exactly am I talking about? Let's say you're a member of an organization - one which you may or may not be getting directly paid off to be a part of. To the extreme, let's say you're a member of a cult that wants public subsidization to build idols to yourselves? Fine, it's a free country. But, before you manipulate the public - by spending a couple hundred thousand (using As The World Turns model here) on writing front page articles about why your cult should be subsidized with tax payer dollars - Don't you think you're obligated to disclose your membership? Better yet, excuse yourself from covering the topic all together due to a blatant conflict of interest?
After a series of back room negotiations and consolidation of political interests -negotiated at the homes of prominent Eastern Taney County citizens - the Taney County Commission is pushing for a new sales tax.
The main thrust of the tax - reasoning behind why it's ok - is because the majority of the tax rides on the backs of Branson's tourists. I refer to the statement above - by taxing tourists - a negative ripple effect ensues on the tourist economy and those locals who make their income from it.
The political conversation - funded through lobbyists - focuses on one issue. How do we get Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts to pay a greater share? Of course, they can't. When TIF districts are established, a percentage of taxed income is deferred for infrastructure. Contrary to several articles published in local publications over the last few months - the regulations set forth a maximum time frame by which taxes can be deferred.
To compare and contrast let's take the Silver Dollar City TIF and compare it to the Branson Landing TIF. Pete Herschend, who is involved at the state level with our schools, opted to propose a TIF by which no property taxes will be used to subsidize the project (most school districts are financed through property taxes). Sales taxes can be used at a rate up to 50% for a period up to 20 years.
Voters can change taxes; therefore, to create a bonding agreement, must be a percentage of the taxes being used to subsidize infrastructure. The focus of many local geo-political groups targets this red herring issue - rather than debating the question, "Is the tax is really good for the people?"
I can think of some good reasons for a tax. Particularly, ones that save lives.
The perverse actions of many members of the press have been detailed by the first amendment foundation.
Our local media has also focused on the issue of ethics in this post. Tony Messenger elaborates on the issue.
If you want to be a member of an organization - fine. If you want to push for increased public funding of the private club in the newspaper - disclose your membership. At least you'd be showing enough respect for the public for them to make an informed decision.
If the Springfield News-leader doesn’t take a stand – it’s a one handed lob into the basket of corruption.
The picture above is of Ron Houseman and Bob Schanz. They ran a vicious campaign against each other during last years Republican Primaries for the position of Taney County Commissioner. Both lost to current commissioner Chuck Pennel.
After the primaries, President Bush came to aid Republican Senate incumbent Jim Talent. Lo and behold, as you zoom into the photo below – they’re sitting side by side.
Over the last three weeks they're on a race to tax Taney County residents. Schanz wins the publicity race by sending over 300 residents for a hecklers-veto over the Taneycomo bridge but, Houseman gets to ask permission for his version of higher taxes for the citizens.
The picture answers the question posed in the post "Taxes two weeks in a row"