Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Taxes Aren't the Problem for Ordinary Folks in District 24

There's a new flash-in-the-pan anti-Arcuri blog out there, this one entitled Stop Arcuri. While I am certainly not Michael Arcuri's biggest fan, I encourage the person who has written the one-entry blog to stop and think for a second before blathering on with faith-based Republican talking points about the economy.

So far, the blog consists of the statement:
"Why did I start this blog? Because I'm a small business owner in the 24th district and the last thing New York needs is what Michael Arcuri will bring us- higher taxes, more lost jobs, and even more schemes for wringing every last penny out of us."

I'm a small business owner myself, and I can tell you that high taxes certainly are NOT the primary challenge for most small businesses these days. The rate of taxation doesn't have a big impact on my business. When taxes are raised, it's a small item in the margin of my profits, because the tax hikes generally aren't that big - in the larger scheme of things. Likewise, when taxes are cut, it's by an insignificant amount per individual or small business. You've got to be a wealthy individual or a very big business for these tax rate changes to have much impact.

Wouldn't you know it, that's exactly who tax policy has been aimed at under Republican rule - the rich and powerful. Republican tax policy helps the big guys by sucking funding out of stuff that really helps the little guy succeed.

Ray Meier has supported the Paris Hilton Multimillion Dollar Estate Inheritance Loophole in New York State. That's not the official name of it, of course, but it's what it ought to be called.

There was already an exemption in New York State from inheritance tax for anyone who inherited up to one million dollars. Inherit $999,999.99 and you would pay absolutely no tax on it. Ray Meier thought it was an outrage that kids inheriting over a million dollars would have to pay taxes on money they didn't even earn themselves. Meier voted to increase the exemption to 1.5 million dollars.

Working families and small business owners have to pay taxes on what they make. It's a fair arrangement, on the whole. Taxes are the dues we small business owners pay for the privilege of living and doing business in a society that is stable and economically viable - maintained by the government.

The problem with the system lately is that, under the Republicans, the government has been shirking on its end of the deal. The Republicans have been funding in extravagant, ill-conceived adventures like the Iraq War, building a bridge to nowhere in Alaska, starting a colony on the Moon, and building Star Wars missile defense stations even though no viable Star Wars missile defense programs exist.

Where do they get the money? Out of the bread-and-butter programs that keep America running. So, state and local governments are shouldering a burden that cannot be sustained.

What are the real challenges to small businesses these days? How about oil at over 73 dollars per barrel? How about the cost of health care? How about the invasion of small towns and cities by big box chain stores that sell stuff made in sweatshops in places like China and El Salvador?

It's factors like these that are threatening our small businesses and local communities - not the taxes that we pay.

Criticize Mike Arcuri if you like - all politicians deserve critical examination. But, please, if you're going to slam Arcuri, do it on an issue that matters.


Anonymous said...

Apparently you don't have a separate business location, but work out of your home. If you had a business location, you'd appreciate the significant expense of property taxes on small businesses.

In fact, taxes are a significant problem for ordinary folks in the 24th, which is why the Republicans have been able to capitalize on the issue. However, State income taxes are a relatively small part of that problem.

In your business Jon, you also spend much time on the road out of state, so your customers aren't limited to the financially disadvantaged populace of upstate New York alone.

Taxes are not the biggest problem facing upstaters, but to pretend they are not a problem is pure head in the sand.

24 Independent said...

As a matter of fact, I have two businesses. One takes me out of state quite often, and one doesn't (not much, anyway).

Increases in property taxes are in large part due in large part to what I talked about in the article: Withdrawal of support from the federal government, increases in health care costs, and surging energy costs. Ask an honest local elected official, and they'll tell you about these pressures.

This isn't about greedy local communities taxing the hell out of residents for the fun of it. It's about local communities being squeezed by Republican government that spends on frivolous items while failing to invest in America's basic infrastructure.

Besides, what could either Ray Meier or Mike Arcuri do as a member of the United States Congress to prevent local governments from raising property tax rates?

Think it through.

The tax issue is a distraction from the real problems that are hurting the economies of the 24th District. The idea that taxes are making people poor is emotionally pleasing to voters, but it doesn't stand up to rational scrutiny.

This is taboo for any political candidate to say. We citizens, however, should have the smarts to not follow along with the wink-wink-nod-nod political script on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Actually Jon, 70% of the cost of local governments is personnel expense. The increase in local property taxes at rates well above the rate of inflation are primarily caused by increases in health care costs, increases in pension costs and continual wage increases above the rate of inflation. The problem is the private sector has been losing well paid manufacturing jobs and retail wages are stagnant. The effect has been to shift a larger portion of community resources into the pockets of public employees while private sector employees pay more and earn less.

Not just are we experiencing a greater income disparity between rich and poor, but there is a greater and greater gap between the relatively insulted public sector and the uninsulated private sector.

The Republicans have fed on the growing dissatisfaction with the ever more polarized status quo and used it to wrench even more from the lower economic sectors by making income tax policy less and less progressive.

Think about it Jon. Which taxes have been increasing? Highly regressive property and sales taxes, taxes and fees on automobile registrations and driver's licenses, taxes on phone services all of which impact the lower economic classes disproportionately.

Democratic politicians in general have a problem with being able to advocate for less regressive taxation because they haven't got the courage to say it may mean the public employees can't continue to be isolated from the pain experienced by private sector employees. The Republicans will continue to enjoy a PR advantage in this policy area unless and until Democrats get smart enough to advocate significant local government consolidation to control regressive taxation AND a meaningful Federal and State tax structure that eliminates powerful corporate figures self enriching their salaries.

Anonymous said...

Public vs. private

Anonymous said...

If that blogger thinks Mike Arcuri will bring higher taxes, lower paying jobs and a mass exodus from the district, he's already too late. Ray Meier already did that for us as Senator.

24 Independent said...

I read that article. Saving people $313 dollars a year is exactly the kind of insignificant change that comes about through focus on making new little tax reductions here and there instead of addressing the systematic issues that are threatening our local economies.

Those politicians pushing this issue in Buffalo ought to be ashamed of themselves for promoting this sort of distracting flim flam.

Anonymous said...

Saving $313 is more than the equivalent of a weeks wages for someone earning under $8.00 per hour. I think they would consider that significant.

Anonymous said...

$313 is insignificant? That's where the issues of efficiency and overall cost come in. Ignore the details and you lose control of the big picture.

Systematic issues? Like Walmart? I hate to burst your bubble Jon, but Walmart is an effect, not a cause. It's the same reason people shop at instead of their local dealer. It's the same reason the local dealer is selling imported tires and the same reason American tire manufacturers are making multiple brand name product lines. Price competition is a huge factor. It's why you don't have the mom and pop grocery stores that existed when I was a kid. Cheap transportation, faster and more extensive communications, and competitive markets for labor and raw materials along with intensive capitalization of production means leaner margins and greater volune win over personal service. Walmart is the current evolution in retail that's been going on for years. Someday soon they will be replaced by online ordering by and large.

Why have the various unions in the anti-Walmart campaign been unable to organize Walmart workers?

Anonymous said...

I do as much online shopping as possible and have done this for a number of years, particularly with vendors outside of NY State. In Oneida County, the sales tax is nearly ten percent. Why would I bother buying here what I can buy online for less money, free shipping and no sales tax? In addition to saving sales tax costs and sometimes shipping costs, there are frequently online coupons for discounts at many well known sites. I bought a TV online. I didn't have to carry it home or pay to have it delivered in addition to a bloated cost for the TV. I paid no sales tax and the same TV cost nearly $300 more locally. I didn't mind paying online shipping in this case. I saved hundreds. To hell with them. If my county government and local vendors don't want to compete, let em die. I'm sick of being ripped off. If they are going to tax me to death here and ignore the skewed cost of utilities and other gouging tactics going on, then I am going to recoup my disposible income elsewhere. I have no loyalty to a government or to local businesses that have no loyalty to me. All they do is take and give nothing in return.

As it is, with our thieving county executive Joe Griffo, people are going to Herkimer County to buy bigger ticket items just to get out from under Griffo's thieving sales tax. He had the nerve to blame the poor for his sales tax hoax, then he kept the surplus. Now he's running for state senator, the thief.