Cris Mooney
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Last Updated Oct 26, 1997

What cost principles?

The Regional Renaissance Initiative legislation mixes at least two major issues:

  1. Do you think your taxes should raised?
  2. Do you think your taxes should are best spent on stadiums, and unnamed projects?

The obvious duality here is intentional. The authors of the legislation know that if they can interest voters in the second issue, they can make them forget the first issue. This is the traditional "rider" technique used in all sorts of legislation to slip undesirable items through on the back of other legislation.

I recently heard a talk show host acknowledge that a caller's principles conflicted with this tax. Yet, the host continued, "are you willing to risk loosing our sports teams over $50 per year?"

To me this talk show host encouraged one of the most despicable forms of behavior imaginable: prostitution of your values. It was clear that the talk host would not have recommended that the caller "sell" out their principles if the tax was larger.

In this respect, the authors of this bill were successful. The most important issue, increased taxation, is lost in the fever over the more "popular-emotional" issue.

I hope they will not convince everyone to compromise their principles.


Issue #1

More Tax

The question put forth is "will another 1/2% of the public's money be put to better use by the government, or by people?".

The proposed 1/2 percent sales tax simply adds to the "pot" that is already collected from residents. A quick and sloppy inventory of income taxes (28% federal, 2.8% state, 2.875% city), sales taxes (6% state, 1% county), property taxes, sin taxes, lottery income, plus uncountable other fees, makes it clear to me that this "pot" is full enough already.

Many people claim that this "1/2% tax" is unique in that it will be used for stadiums, and other infrastructure. This is a weak argument since these objectives can be funded by most any of the other tax money already collected. In specific, 1/2 of the "1%" RAD tax was dedicated to stadiums and other such projects.

Considering the list of taxes already instituted, it seems clear to me that this tax is ridiculously excessive. In fact, it is a direct insult at to the people that our government controls as much of our income as it already does.

The very fact that most people consider a "1/2% tax" trivial, proves how absurd a level of taxation has been reached. Riddle me this: if this is such a trivial tax, then how come we can't just finance from the other taxes already collected?

I do not take the extreme point of view that all taxes should be eliminated. There are collective areas where the people should ante up for "public" projects. But these resources must be limited, or sloppy greed sets in. At this point, there is plenty of money, and if enough money cannot be found to finance a project then the system is just lazy, or the project is not worthy.


Issue #2

"Build stadiums & unnamed projects"

Next, the legislation asks "should the public be forced to finance these projects?"

Without funding for such projects our region will certainly have a difficult time "keeping up with the Jones". This is no different from your own personal life, where you must maintain your own property (home, auto, clothes, electronics, et.).

What some people fail to remember is that there are multitudes of competing projects for funding from the tax "pot". Again a direct parallel to your own finances. Is it a car today, or a TV? Or shall we use the credit card again?

I do not pretend to know the answer to this question. In fact, I find it very pretentious that so many of the Regional Renaissance Initiative advocates claim to have the hands down answer to such a complex question. The number of competing projects, from education to clean water, makes this question far deeper than most people can consider (being too busy).

However, some people have considered it in great detail. An overwhelming number of studies have found that financing stadiums in this fashion does not pay off.

In our own experience, Three Rivers stadium was presented as a foundation for north side development. This has not panned out, and the current advocates offer no detailed analysis why. Personally, I don't see that provisions are in place to avoid whatever pitfalls befell previous efforts.

The main point is that this issue has no solid answer, whereas the main question does.



Vote No!

Many voters feel want a stadium, and they don't care how we pay for it. I hope they will consider if this is just selling out.

When I weigh the issues, it is clear to me that the "more tax" issue is well defined, and most important. The other questions dwarf in comparison. Moreover, even when I consider the second largest issue, "Build stadiums & infrastructure", I have great reservation that the proposed methods are the best way to spend our taxes.

As a result, I feel that a no vote for this legislation is the only reasonable conclusion.

The sad thing is that it really doesn't matter. They have the power to tax us as they please, and alter legislation after it is passed. The best we can hope to do is send a message that we think current taxes are enough.