By Bradley Harrington
“Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.” — Robert Heinlein, “Time Enough for Love,” 1973 —
Taxes, we are all taught, are an essential requirement for civilization. Without them, we’ve been lectured all of our lives, our society would collapse in a whirlwind of crime, anarchy, chaos and destruction — and there’s no doubt a majority of us have come to buy into that outlook.
Well, you’re about to read a minority viewpoint.
In the marketplace, products succeed and prosper based on their ability to provide consumers with what they are willing to voluntarily pay for. And, since business has to be EARNED by productive effort, producers make sure they not only provide their customers with what they’re after, they do their utmost best to treat them with dignity and respect as well. Or they don’t remain in production for long.
What is the singular fact of reality that makes such quality of goods and services possible? The right of consumers to walk on down the line and buy something from somebody else. To cast a “No” vote economically, as it were, when they don’t find what they need or are treated shabbily even if the product is right for them.
With TAXES, however, all such choices and restrictions on scandalous behavior fly right out the window. Being based in the use of force, government can treat you in any way it chooses, with their guns as the final argument. You’re their “customer” whether you like it or not; whether you find their “services” useful or not; whether you’re treated properly or not; whether you gain from the transaction, or find yourself being bled dry instead.
Government’s provision of “services,” therefore, is no longer tied to what’s actually needed, but to whatever bureaucrats decide THEY think you ought to “need.”
Once in a while, however, the chance presents itself for us to actually have a say in how our pockets are to be plundered and for what purposes — and just such an opportunity lies before us on May 2, when Laramie County voters consider the proposed Sixth-Penny Tax.
With a total bill to be footed of over $109 million spread over 9 propositions, here are just a few of the items on that Sixth-Penny list:
“Multi-Purpose Event Facility”; “Cheyenne Multi-Purpose Indoor Turf Facility”; “Albin Housing Expansion”; “Cheyenne West Edge District Enhancements”; “Cheyenne Construct Indoor Gymnasium/Offices”; and “Pine Bluffs Refurbish Recreational Facilities.” (Laramie County website at www.laramiecounty.com.)
Not a single one of those projects is something the government should be involved in, and I don’t see how anyone could possibly ever claim that these are things anyone NEEDS. Wants, yes; but not needs. Wants that are best provided by the free market.
Then we have “Cheyenne Street Improvements” … Um, excuse me please, but wasn’t that what the 5th Penny Tax was for? And “Pine Bluffs Debt Reduction” … WHOSE debt?? Why should Laramie County taxpayers be held responsible for the obvious indiscretions of Pine Bluffs city government?
Then we have things that might actually be of benefit to Laramie County residents, such as: “Burns 4th Street Sewer Line Completion”; “Cheyenne Fire Station Improvements/Fire Engines”; “Albin Replace Existing Water Lines”; and “Pine Bluffs Clean Water System Renovation.”
Projects such as these, however, have been deliberately scattered amongst all the rest of the twaddle by the powers-that-be … Precisely so that voters would be forced to adopt government-sponsored “amenities” along with the useful items.
And if you don’t think that’s true, then get a load of this:
“‘When you look at a big $7 million project in there like the (Cheyenne) city (gymnasium and indoor sports facility) — when you add those big projects to a group, I think that puts them in jeopardy,’ said County Commissioner Troy Thompson. ‘But by adding public safety in those groups, it makes the groups more appealing to voters.’” (“Cheyenne, Laramie County projects packaged for sixth penny ballot,” WTE, Oct. 28, 2016.)
Translation: “We’re stacking the deck and you’re stuck with the deal.”
Given such manipulation and the presence of so much other “amenity” rubble on these propositions, therefore, I’d recommend a clear “NO!” vote on all nine of them.
Yes, I know … Some of this stuff IS useful and needed; and, until we implement true market solutions in the areas of roads and infrastructure, government is going to be providing it. But there’s only one thing to do, Dear Reader, when confronted with a stacked deck: You get up and walk away from the table.
City and county governments are both clearly out of their bounds, and — just as we would do in the free marketplace — the only answer to breeding efficiency back into its operations is to “Starve the beast!”
We, as private citizens who don’t have recourse to theft and force, have to live within OUR means. Isn’t it about time that our governments started doing the same?
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on April 16, 2017. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.