I used to tout that the journalists in my local area "played it straight" in their respective papers; unfortunately, one of them is really starting to show the same leftward bias that most journalists seem to have (doubt me? Show me a poll of newsrooms that, in a majority count, either self-describe as Conservatives or give predominately to either Republicans or TEA Party type organizations – gotcha!).
But I have to admit, this latest "screed acting as a news item" by Michael Kitch in the Sept 23, 2010 issue of the Laconia Daily Sun (p 1, 9) pretty much is as blatant as it gets (unless, of course, you’re writing for Newsweek – and if so, you’d better get your resume ready, as they are dumping employees at a rate even faster than the NYT, CBS, NBC, ABS, and the other MSM organizations).
So with that – caution! Liberally biased Journalist goes after "The New Hampshire Advantage" with a wealth envy Op-ed disguised as a front page "news" front page / top of fold story. First, it starts with the headline:
The N.H. Advantage? Some towns can spend twice as much as comparably populated neighbor & still have lower rate
So, when is the last time you saw a headline THAT long – if not to make a point? Trust me when I say this: Michael Kitch, the author of the piece, has a really bad case of wealth envy. It continues:
In the Lakes Region, the “New Hampshire Advantage” amounts to abundant waterfront property and seasonal residents, which are reflected in higher assessed valuations, much larger annual budgets and lower tax rates.
That’s all. NH Advantage – simply just rich people giving rich taxes to towns – and don’t share with others that have less than they do. That’s strike one and the first deliberate mis-characterization.
With the delivery of government services primarily organized through hundreds of small townships — with relatively little money trickling down from state government — New Hampshire has built a system that enables some towns to spend literally twice as much as comparable neighboring towns and yet tax their residents at a lower rate…
Note to the Rousseau loving journalist – this is not France where "equality" is the mantra – this is America where it is "equal before the law" – a huge difference between the two. Can you tell, however, the push to the former over the American tradition based latter? Once again, the "nudge" from our betters in a "change the world" moment. This is "property tax equity" rearing its head and he’s absolutely not digging or enthused with the "wealth inequality" simply due to a fact of geography and that some people are willing to pay FAR more for property that, well, is on a big lake and thus, more desirable (seeing that it is Lake Winnipesaukee he is talking about). Or is he, like many Progressives, starting to make the case that it is time to take from the rich and give to "the victims" (and in terms of this piece, that would be the towns "without" a lake).
He also seemingly sneers at the idea of small and locally directed town government with high levels of local control. Big Government, centralized systems – send your money there and then let THEM allocate it back, well, to you. After all, whose money is it anyways? Oh yeah, if you really talk to him (as I have in the past), it should be Government’s first – that’s the ticket!
In order for what he wants to happen, we have to get rid of part of the NH Advantage, which is local control (to Progressives, extreme local control). I don’t like what’s going on? I can call my neighbor. Don’t like my taxes, yell at my Selectman or the School Board chair – by walking down the street and knocking on the door. THAT is the essence of local control and self-governance: WE, as a society, get to influence and change Government as we need it to happen. Transferring that from the local community to a more distant location, much more unapproachable set of folks means:
The Bigger the Government, the smaller the citizen
And that is the beginning of the case Kitch is making. Statist, he is (as Yoda might put it).
I used to think that Journalism was all about the Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why – failing that, at least the crusading fedora wearing, ink stained fingered hack outing governmental malfeasance a la Bell, CA (whose "leaders" were "high hogging" on the taxpayer pennies). But now it seems it is "change the world" – and given the Leftward collapse of the MSM, we know the direction (and end point) they wish to see the "change" in.
The piece goes on to compare the various communities in the Lakes Region financially with appraisal values, taxes, revenues, and expenditures.
But of course, the laments (and the slanted slaps against) the New Hampshire Advantage end the article with this:
Without accounting precisely for all the differences in spending, Alton and Gilford are spending considerably more on both municipal services and public schools than their inland counterparts. In Alton, the budgets for personnel, police, public works, parks and recreation and solid waste are approximately double those of Barnstead while the town also spends more on its fire service as well as functions like planning, assessing and code enforcement. Likewise, much of the difference between Gilford and Belmont consists of expenditures for personnel, police, fire and highways and police…
Oh, the inequity of it all! These towns have more and since they don’t share, they’re, they’re like….Conservatives!!! Here is yet another attempt to make something into a problem, into a crisis, that is merely part of real life.
Remember, even as some towns are lucky enough to have such resources such as waterfront properties, the poorer residents in town are also reaping the benefit of being "subsidized" by the rich on the lake – does he want to increase the taxes on them? Silence on this matter….
These disparities are mitigated somewhat since during the summer months, the populations of Alton and Gilford are swollen by the return of seasonal residents and the appearance of visiting vacationers, which adds to the expenses of waterfront towns. Nevertheless, the relative abundance of valuable and taxable real estate, a significant share of it owned by non-residents who do not vote, appears to sufficiently ease the pressure on resident property taxpayers to enable these towns to spend relatively more on public services. Perhaps in that sense taxation without representation is also an element of the “New Hampshire Advantage.”
WOW! Look at that premise – let’s throw the "no vote" in there to try to make the premise of "too few have too much" stick. Look, NO one is forcing these non-residents to purchase properties in towns other than where their legal domiciles are located. They make STRICTLY voluntary decisions to plunk down their money (Progressives hate the fact that people can make VOLUNTARY decisions without Government help or intervention – after all, people just don’t know how to act or spend "the right way", do they?) and buy things on which THEY have to pay more taxes.
Note to Kitch – if they didn’t find their properties of value, would they buy them? You truly believe that they do NOT take the cost of property taxes into the equation? I guess you think it proper that the rich would not buy at such elevated levels, eh? Or would you rather the towns rebate much of their taxes back to them for suffering such an "unfair level of taxation"?
His real goal? No one town keeps ANY of its revenue – the same with any local control which goes to a central location. How do I know this? Like Niel Young, I fell off Kitch’s list a long time ago after a knock down, drag out over this exact topic.
My argument – we work HARD at keeping expenses low and taxes low. We manage our town well – sure, my hamlet provides more than the limited government that I would prefer, but rather within a loose range of "ok".
His take? We should tax more, and then send it to towns and cities that need it. Made no difference if they had been careful stewards of the taxpayer monies. Made no different if they had kept their expenditures lower than possible. Made no difference if they had just spent their taxpayers into the ground recklessly.
If they need it, and if we had "extra capacity", we were simply cold-hearted by not taking it from OUR taxpayers and sending it to those that had, admittedly, mis-managed their finances. We were stingy and just plain rotten, for there were citizens in need (regardless that their elected officials were just plain unmitigated disasters) that needed our money. The small little fact of "then why do those needy citizens keep re-electing those fiascos" fell of deaf ears – it was OUR problem because WE had the money – and they didn’t.
I’m betting Kitch didn’t have a dry eye as President "I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody" Obama took the oath of office.
The rest of us are crying, as Kitch’s dream wish, writ macro large, is coming true – with Trillions upon Trillions of mis-management.