Friday, March 4, 2011

The Biggest Bargain in The Country -- Or Is It?

When I looked at my property tax bill in December, I was flummoxed.  With funding cuts to important services like libraries, and essential services like police and schools, my property taxes had gone down.

South Carolina does it again.  If there's a problem here, goes the common wisdom, it can be solved by cutting taxes.  And if taxes go down for the poor and middle class, you can be sure there are even bigger bargains for the wealthy -- corporate and individuals alike.

There is an eye-opening article on the SC Progressive Network website, written by Dr. Holley Ulbrich, which details the immoral aspects of our tax code here in South Carolina.  Now, the wealthy are indeed pillaging and plundering our government services throughout the country, but there is a special place for us here in SC:  our taxation rate ranks 47th out of 51 (including the District of Columbia) as percent of income, and an impressive 51st in taxes per capita.

Governor Nikki Haley would have us think that the pitifully low taxes would attract business to South Carolina, but in actual fact, many firms take their business to states where there is a better educated work force, better transportation, better government services in general.

Whether or not businesses locate here, the fact is that our legislators' philosophy of government in general is immoral.  Governor Haley does not believe it is the responsibility of government (read, taxpayer) to fund schools.  Let the churches pay for educating the poor; the wealthy, well, the wealthy can take care of themselves, although Haley et al. are happy to help out with government assistance whenever possible.  And if education gets bad enough and joblessness, crime and illness are on the rise, we can turn to our corporate bedfellows and just privatize.

The geniuses that own this philosophy, from DeMint to Haley,  just don't have to think past privatizing, but if they did they would come up against the fact that it takes government -- taxes -- to pay corporations to run prisons and hospitals.  And when corporations take over government services, the cost skyrockets, and services plummet.  Call this the Blackwater/Halliburton syndrome.

And that, folks, leaves us with the kind of debt that our country inherited from the Bush years, where tax cutting and privatizing ruled the land, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq.

It may be that corporations are the way to go for goods, but when it comes to services, our government is the best bargain in town.  And that means taxation.

There are protests here in South Carolina, demanding that Governor Haley adopt a "moral budget".

We need to step up and be heard.  South Carolina can do better, but it will take the people of this state to stand up and make the legislators accountable.

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