December 2, 2011
The following article was submitted to the Marion Star and Mullins Enterprise around two weeks ago in response to reports published in the paper regarding an attempt to raise the sales in Marion County by one cent. To date, the paper has declined to publish this article. Although I have adhered to all the guidelines for a Letter to the Editor, regardless of the fact that the guidelines are not published, and regardless of the fact that the paper has published other Letters to the Editor which are very short, accompanied these letters by a cartoon, and even, in the November 30th edition, no letters at all, the paper has declined to print what I have submitted to them.
The fact is the Marion Star and Mullins Enterprise has become nothing more than a mouthpiece for the monied elite in Marion County. Only those in powerful positions and those who “know people” are able to have their voice heard. For that reason, the article is published here on my online blog. Please circulate far and wide.
In the wake of meetings being held by the Marion County Tax Commission, it is now apparent that the County is actually serious about its proposal to raise taxes on Marion County citizens by adding an additional one cent sales tax.
Therefore, in regards to this issue, let me be clear in my position – raising taxes at this time, whatever form these taxes may take and for whatever purpose they may be raised, is a terrible idea but it is one that should be categorically rejected by every citizen in this county. In May 2011, the official unemployment rate of Marion County was as high as 19%. However, we know that the real unemployment rate, when all relevant factors are taken into consideration, is often double that of the official numbers. Not only that, but the truth is that our economic troubles as a county as well as the rest of the country are only getting worse by the day. Regardless of what we are being told by our government and our media, we are not in an economic recovery.
Yet, in a county where unemployment is at such high levels and the wages of those that are lucky enough to be working at all are lower than average, as well as the aspect of rising prices and inflation, the County Tax Commission is now suggesting that approximately $9 million dollars be bled out of the average person who has already been devastated with the economic downturn. Raising taxes in the middle of depressions, recessions, downturns, or recoveries is nothing more than short-sighted folly at best. Even a passing knowledge of basic economics shows that raising taxes in this context only makes matters worse.
It must also be pointed out that the projects being funded by this tax hike have little or no economic value. Marion County does not need a “Wellness Center.” Recreational facilities should not be at the top of the priorities list in the midst of an economic crisis. We have managed to function just fine with our current library facilities and, although expansions should be considered in the future, now is not the time. In addition, most rural fire departments can barely afford to operate with the facilities they have now. Additions to these departments will only make financial matters worse for them in the long run. In the end, some of these projects (such as the library expansion, new animal shelter, etc.) may have to wait. Others, like the wellness center, must be rejected altogether.
Having lived in Marion County all of my life, I have little doubt that these tax hikes will be approved regardless of what the general public wants. That is, unless citizens make this an issue that spells out clear political consequences for any elected or unelected public servants who choose to support it. For this reason, we must all make it a point to attend public comment meetings, contact our elected County representatives as well as the tax commission and express our opposition to higher taxes in Marion County. Most importantly, we must remember to go to the polls and vote against these tax hikes when they appear on the ballot.