Tax the Other Guy

A rather silly push poll conducted last week by a far left Alliance for Tax Fairness which purported to show that Marylanders, unlike virtually every other demographic group, are willing to tax the bejeezus out of themselves in the name of better services.

I contend that poll showed what we all know that people are willing to support higher taxes for better services so long as they are reasonably sure they won’t have to pay those taxes (hence the large number saying that soaking the rich was fine with them) or they simply are bereft of second order reasoning (business taxes are passed on to consumers and who, exactly, do the people polled think will pay for a surcharge on landfill dumping).

If you need to convincing look no farther than Clarksburg. There a fairly wealthy community is locked in a death match with Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett over paying fees for better services.

Clarksburg activists say they are still sifting the legal and policy documents that County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) offered up yesterday as a possible way to resolve a dispute over whether to tax residents to repay developers for at least $60 million in roads, sewers and green space they agreed to build more than a decade ago when they won development rights.

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Lynn Fantle, author of a report for a panel convened last year by County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) to examine the dispute (and, some say, to get it off his agenda during an election year), said she was still struggling to understand what Montgomery County gains by allowing developers to be repaid for infrastructure.

After all, she said, the development community builds the roads, installs the sewers and provides green space to support their multi-million dollar developments where many houses are now valued at $1 million and more.

Mind you, we aren’t talking about a lot of money here. The article says $1500 per year per household (that’s $125 per month, probably less than what is spent on Starbucks lattes and arugula salad by those households. And 100% of the money is spent on the local community where the taxpayers live, it isn’t like it is disappearing into a sump in Annapolis.

But when and affluent and lefty community, presumably the ones most likely to say “hell, yes, tax me harder,” actually has to dip into its own pocket rather than into our collective pocket the bleating begins. Let me add here, I’m not saying they are different from other people, rather they are exactly like the rest of us in having the conceit that we know best how to spend our own money.

I really hope the O’Malley administration takes the Alliance poll seriously. It will make the next legislative session a lot of fun.

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