Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yes. Yes. YES.

While I am delighted to conjure images of Madeline Kahn’s escort selection process in Mel Brooks’ History of the World: Part 1, I am referring to my take on the referendum questions on Tuesday’s Massachusetts ballot.

Just for fun, I’ve linked to the state published arguments on both sides, and then added my own summaries of those arguments. 

As provided by law, the 150-word arguments are written by proponents and opponents of each question, and reflect their opinions. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not endorse these arguments, and does not certify the truth or accuracy of any statement made in these arguments. The names of the individuals and organizations who wrote each argument, and any written comments by others about each argument, are on file in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Secretary of State Galvin wants you to know this just in case you read these arguments and think that a distinguished member of our state bureaucracy may have written them while being paid with your tax dollars.  

Your job: see if you can spot the plonker.*

Question 1: Should the sales tax on alcohol be repealed?

Yes:  While high excise taxes have always been placed on alcohol, it wasn’t until last year that alcohol sales were taxed both by excise and the state’s 6.25% sales tax.  A yes vote removes the sales tax.

No:  Drinking alcohol and smoking is not a necessity; therefore Twinkies should also be doubly taxed, but only if everyone else taxes them.  You can’t argue with that logic.

Question 2: Should MGL Chapter 40B (ss.20-23), a law allowing subsidized building of affordable housing to be constructed by qualified companies without benefit of local permitting, be repealed?

Yes: No:  Both arguments contain statements regarding the importance of “affordable housing” within a community.  What does it mean to have “affordable housing” within your community?  Who gets to decide whether or not housing is affordable?  Both arguments give credence to the idea that a governmental body should be able to exert some control over the price, number, and accessibility to private property. 

This is tricky because both of the writers are plonkers! But the guy supporting the repeal of 40B at least recognizes that giving state qualified companies, competing for state subsidies, a pass on local regulations – no matter how hideous and non-objective those regulations are – is a recipe for taxpayer funding of special interest disasters!

As a local conservation agent, I spent a significant amount of time with 40B applications. Compliance with state and federal wetlands laws permitted by local conservation commissions is not exempted by the law.  They’re just another permitting hurdle adding to the expense of subsidized affordable unit construction.  It wastes taxpayer money and invites corruption of local process.


Question 3: (The Big Kahuna) Would you vote to reduce the Massachusetts’ Sales and Use Tax Rate to 3% from its current rate of 6.25%?

Yes:  Forces state government to trim 5% of the fat. (Actually, I was pretty disappointed in Carla Howell’s defense of a lowered tax rate here. I think she could have supported her bulleted items with details and been much more articulate.)

No: If you vote to reduce the state sales tax, your children will probably be stupid, you may very well experience a home invasion, your house could burn down, and you are quite likely to fall through a bridge, or into a sink hole while driving, if you haven’t been poisoned already. The cost of this reduction amounts to about half of what we get from the state, therefore the state really needs it from us so it can give it back to us.  I mean . . .

I wanted to address these issues because a few days ago, I heard a woman on the radio who turned out to be from the League of Women Voters discussing the ballot questions.  She was extremely soft spoken, sounding more like a kindergarten teacher than a policy wonk, and her argument for voting NO. on Question 3 contained a very telling statement that went something like this: We need to keep the sales tax at 6.25% so that we can even out the loss of services to the communities who have voted not to override their budgets, much to their own detriment. This statement shows not only a disdain for the ability of people to make decisions for themselves—which is evident in every statist’s argument—but also, a clear contempt for the entire local system of government!  The fact that she spoke like a kindergarten teacher did not escape my husband who noted that all welfare statists treat adults like children.
Despite the fact that the voter information printed arguments supporting these measures are pragmatic rather than principled, we must continue to try to reduce the use of state force to its one proper purpose: the protection of our individual rights. 

A trilogy of YES votes on Tuesday may be the Bay Stater’s next best means. Unless you live in Barney Frank’s district, then grab your friends and neighbors and really have a party!

*Spot the plonker is a terrific expression I learned from What a Girl Wants (at 1:24) – a movie in which Colin Firth can be seen wearing leather pants at one point (I could tell you the exact point, but I don’t want to ruin the joy of discovery for you).


Fiddler said...

I love the fact that you managed to include a Colin Firth reference. It makes the title of your post even more appropriate.

Lynne said...

Why, Miss Fiddler! I do believe that is very saucy of you! (Or maybe that's just me in a fit of saucy-transference.)

Fiddler said...

Yes, I realize it was a wee bit out of character for your Jane-Austen-channeling friend. Must be your influence!

Lynne said...

High praise, indeed.