Friday, April 9, 2010

Gov. Brewer urges voters to support Prop. 100

Paula plays dutiful steno for the Governor as she stumps for the sales-tax initiative. The enormous pushback from the right, as seen in in the comments, would be amusing if it weren't so blockheaded and ill-informed. The fur is flying as everyone throws their favorite myths into the fray.

Myth 1: The tax won't really be temporary, they'll just keep it going. I've seen the legislation and its ironclad sunset provision, and in order to extend it the Legislature would have to write a new bill and either vote for it themselves, which they are obviously too frightened to even attempt, or get us to vote for it again.

Myth 2: The Republicans want more taxes to support unnecessary programs -- they can cut a lot more. The cognitive disconnect that allows people to maintain this idea without heads exploding amazes me. Our entire state government has been underfunded for decades as Republicans exploited every chance to reduce taxes and ignored every opportunity to restructure the revenue system on a more reliable and sustainable basis. Beyond programmatic efficiencies like reducing education paperwork, there really isn't anything significant left in the budget to cut that won't severely hurt vital programs or cause significant cost increases elsewhere.

Myth 3: Money is being spent on "government" that should be spent on education. Take a look at any pie chart of the Arizona budget: education and health care are already the vast majority of it, and administration is a sliver.

Myth 4: The schools are already well funded, they're just incompetent. There's no public school in America with sufficient resources to provide sufficient education to prepare students for real life and citizenship in the 21st century, and Arizona is consistently near the bottom of the rankings on both the funding and result scales. Yes, we could be spending what we spend more efficiently by demanding less of our education professionals in terms of paperwork and such, but we'd still be way behind the curve in giving kids the educational opportunities they need and we need them to have.

Myth 5: A temporary sales tax is the best way to bridge this temporary problem in the economy. No, more sales tax is probably the least smart way to fix a problem caused in greatest part by overreliance on sales taxes for revenue. It's just the easiest to get through the Legislature. Sales taxes are regressive in that they fall most heavily on those less able to pay, and they tend to dry up at exactly the point where recessive economic cycles increase the need for state services, as we have just experienced so famously.

The Republicans have taken our state economy for a long joyride, trashed it and left it in the farmer's field. They're culpable, but we're the adults who have to deal with the mess. Further, if we don't pass Prop 100 and tax ourselves more, the hammer falls harder on our kids and teachers -- that's built into the budget already. There is no alternative mechanism ready to fix that barring a magic and completely unforeseen infusion from the federal level through the Governor's office. We really don't have much choice about the sales tax -- we have to call the tow truck, pick the heap up and get it fixed. But as voters we do have the opportunity to fire the people who have been making the wrong decisions that led us here, and install those who understand the problem and will apply a better vision for our future.


Anonymous said...

So you kinda call out the reporter for being a dutiful steno then it seems you kinda do to your readers what you're complaining about. In any case the reporter's fault as I see it is the lack of coverage on the "little people" getting some recognition. Take from it what you will.

Steven Ayres said...

I'm not the reporter, I'm the commentator. If you disagree with what I'm saying, put up your own argument, preferably with a name attached to it, as anonymous comments indicate unwillingness to commit to your own words.

What 'little people' are you talking about?

Mia Connolly said...

I will be voting YES.

Anonymous said...

Steven, I have to respectfully disagree with your continually asking the writers to identify themselves, as you have asked me to do in the past. I will not fully ID myself due to the risk that it puts my family in, should any local zealot decide to personally disagree with my views. You must be aware that the County website provides full details of all landowners in the county. All one needs to do is log in a name and they have their suspects address, (or so they might think). Your name is also listed and you can be easily found should someone have such a desire. Just to help you know why some resist you on this practice.

Steven Ayres said...

Living in fear of one's neighbors must be a terrible thing, but it's no skin off my nose. I just can't imagine why anyone would bother to express an opinion in public without being willing to stand up for it. If you're too scared to ID yourself, it seems like better policy to just keep quiet.

What most people don't get is that anonymity is what causes the adolescent nastiness that stains online communities everywhere. I've been involved in this for a very long time and know whereof I speak. Identities turn commenters into real people who have a stake in what they say and have to live with the consequences of it. This leads to more adult discourse and less BS.