It is Thursday and only 4 days before Santa Claus sends the elves to the South Pole to live with the penguins. Who better to interview than Mr. Happy Feet himself, James Williams a/k/a GriftDrift. (Sorry James, it just came to me out of the blue!)
As Forrest Gump’s mother said, Happy is and happy does. If that is true, then the legislators of the 2009 Georgia General Assembly should not be happy for years, because one thing they will not be dispensing, beginning next week, is happiness. What is hard to predict is exactly what posture the slash and burn budget negotiations will take. Will the Republican insistence on control and obedience make it a quick attack and victory on the unsuspecting numbers of teachers, students, health care professionals, social services (like Rape Crisis), the sickly poor, and the faces of other programs? Will anyone know what hits them, until it is over and too late to do anything about it? Transparency or smoke as to the real meaning and impact on this or that?
Three things are for certain: (1) No Republican is going to allow the thought of raising taxes cross his mind. (Although James did say that one of them wanted to raise revenue by taxing “gentlemen” clubs.) (2) Something important is going to be cut. (3) The ripples of this budget fight will be felt in the political elections of 2010.
Georgia is proud that taxes here are lower than in all the other states of the Union except maybe one or two (Mississippi must be one of them.). Let me tell you what is wrong with that pride. Our tax plan came from the depression era. When these guys say they can’t raise taxes, in essence they are saying that the vision of Georgia has not changed for decades, since the last depression. They can’t raise taxes because they can say that and get away with it, but it is nothing more than an admission that they have no vision for this state that will survive this century. They live in the past. They tax in the past. They educate in the past. They plan in the past (more of the same). They punish in the past.
They talk about preparing for the future, but that future is limited to developing the state from border to border. They have no vision and if you read your Bible, you know that where there is not vision, the people perish.
I do not want to raise taxes as an answer to anything. But it seems to me that government is best that accurately evaluates the needs of the people (health care, education, trauma centers, assistance to elderly) and then decides what it will take, in taxes or whatever, to provide those necessities. If that evaluation resulted in a 1% tax increase, would that be so bad. The error of the Republican party of today is that it does not want to plan and find out if that 1% raise needs to be passed into law.
Don’t get me wrong. This economy may not be the place to raise 1% in new revenue. I don’t know. But neither was it the time when times were good, when times were better. It has never been the time, even when we could have afforded it. The 1990s. Yes, the Democrats are probably just as responsible because nobody wants to raise taxes, but back when the Democrats were in power the question was not as pressing as it going to be this year and next year and the year after that.
The Republicans are in charge and the current failure to use these times to plan and evaluate and overhaul the tax system (not just eliminate property taxes as they wanted to do last year) is their failure alone. It is there failure because good business sense will tell you that when you cheat education and health care year after year, the people do not progress, they suffer.
I predict that one day Georgia will come into the 21st century and when it does it will raise taxes. It will not be this year and may not be next year, but the towers of a cheap society will not stand long. It will all come crashing down around them and us. Maybe it will be when China buys us out. Maybe it will be when crime convinces us that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
My point is this. I do not fault them for not raising taxes. I fault them for exalting their mantra about not raising taxes to the point it prevails over reason and common sense.