Guest column: Voters should be wary of political promises
BY RAWLEY McCOY
March 2, 2014 at 3:05 p.m.
Updated March 2, 2014 at 9:03 p.m.
First of all, I don't believe I have ever written a letter to the editor or publicly expressed my opinions on political matters in writing. In my profession, I do a lot of work for various political entities, and out of deference to the folks who choose to represent us in elected positions, I have always kept my feelings to myself.
I do, though, feel compelled to simply suggest that we as voters need to analyze what we are told by candidates during elections and allow our own intellect and even common sense to determine in our own minds if what we are promised can actually be done.
Take the concept of "no new taxes," and especially the notion that we can never raise the effective tax rate, thus keeping a governmental entity's tax income static, never to increase. What do you think would happen to businesses that would adopt a similar policy and say, "We don't want our annual revenues to rise, ever"? How long do you think that business would stay in business? Government is no different. A governmental entity could not stand an acceptable level of service to the people it serves anymore than a business could provide goods and services to its customers or clients.
To accept the notion that tax income for a governmental entity can never increase and that the entity can provide the same level of service every year, one has to believe that all costs to that entity can remain the same as well. It doesn't work that way in my business. Our rent, utilities, health insurance, liability insurance, coffee for the break room and our hope to be able to give our employees raises and sustain or increase their benefits always costs more each year. Yes, our taxes sometimes increase as well, but they are not the only cost of business that increases. It is no different for governmental entities. Some cost increases that they incur are simply out of their control. And if they cannot ever increase their intake of tax revenue, then those governmental entities cannot sustain the level of service that the public demands of them. And for some reason, my observations over the years are that those who complain the most about their taxes being too high tend to be the same folks who complain the most that the services they receive from government are not good enough.
Now, don't think that I believe that taxes can't ever become too high, because they sure can. What I expect from those I vote for is balance in their approach to taxing and spending. I can accept reasonable increases in my taxes as long as I perceive that I am receiving my money's worth in return from the governmental entity that taxes me. I choose to consider my taxes as an investment in the community, state and nation that I live in and, like all of my investments, I want a return on those investments.
So, in summation, apply the same distrust to those who promise you that your effective taxes will never rise under their watch that you do to those you feel spend too much of your tax money. Demand balance from those we elect when it comes to taxing and spending. Don't accept promises that you know in your heart and mind cannot be kept.
The above thoughts and opinions, in my mind, are applicable to everyone who runs for office, regardless of the office or party they represent. I am certain many who read this will suspect some agenda on my part when there really is none. I will save the discussion of the rise of cynicism in our society for another day. I have said what I wanted to say. It is now off my chest, so to speak, and I do feel better for it. Although it may take decades for me to muster the courage to do this again.
Rawley McCoy is an architect and a lifelong Victorian.