Friday, February 10, 2006

Property Taxes 101

This will be a multi-part entry so come back to read it all. I have submitted it to several newspapers but this is for those who might not see it.

Real Property Tax Reform
For a Change

The gauntlet has been thrown. We're spending more than we can afford and change is in the air.

There is little disagreement that Rhode Islanders pay among the very highest property taxes in the country. The budget is the enemy and solutions always point in the same direction; spending limits or budget cuts.

Now, I'm no fan of wasting money and it does make sense to lower budgets; we often spend too much for what we receive. But the larger question, the one always ignored, is whether limits on spending, by themselves, will produce the results we expect and deserve – fair taxes for everyone.

To help answer that question, look at a familiar national problem - obesity.

Americans consume more food per capita than any other people in the world. We, especially our children, are heavier than ever, and diet related illnesses like diabetes and heart disease are rampant and getting worse.

Simplistic answer – cut the food available, everyone reduces food intake by a certain amount and everyone loses weight. Mission accomplished? Problem solved?

Obviously not. While obesity certainly is a national problem, there are people in America who are hungry and don’t get enough to eat. The ‘simple solution' would require these folks as well, to lower their consumption which is already too low.

The issue is clearly more complicated. While total consumption is a problem, an even more important problem is distribution. Unless we deal effectively with the distribution problem, any solution targeting only the total consumption is doomed to fail.

To be continued...

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