Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Speaking of Bad Days

I was wrong. As was so eloquently pointed out by my predecessor, the current combined city/county/state sales tax is already at the maximum allowed by current state law. Mea Culpa.

I do wonder how the State is planning to handle their budget overrun, not to mention what will happen with all of the cities in Texas that are in budget crunches themselves due to promises of unsustainable salaries and pensions. I suppose the state will have to get a second job? It's not like they can legislate themselves more money through changes to the tax code and additional "fees," right?

Even in San Angelo, we are in the middle of a massive recession, but I'm not sure our town knows it. Our city council has just announced a brand-spanking new holiday for city workers, giving them one more holiday than even the bloated federal government. The small percentage of citizens that bothered to vote earlier this month passed permanence on the 1/2 cent sales tax so that we can pay to get another water source "for the future," even though we've already paid for this one once. Two or three years ago our water fees doubled to replace the water and sewer lines that were supposed to be being maintained by the extant water fees we had already been paying. While not directly city controlled, there was also the increase in property values (up as much as 500% in some areas) by the "non-city government" assessment district, so that we are now paying more in property taxes even though the tax rate officially "decreased."

Historically, the city council of San Angelo has a poor track record of keeping it's word on infrastructure issues. It also has a history of making ordinances that lessen individual freedoms (one example is the "garage sale" issue just weeks ago), but then don't bother to enforce existing ordinances that would probably preclude the new issues in the first place. In contrast, they will enforce obscure, ancient ordinances if it suits their purposes ("no tossing a ball to and fro on city streets", that is if you happen to be suspected of being a drug dealer).

Pardon me if I don't trust the city council and local government to be looking out for the best interests of the individual San Angeloan. The city is looking out for the city government's best interest. That's how bureaucracy works -- its purpose is to decentralize decision making (to cover bureaucratic butts) and to expand to fill available space. While everyone else is having to cut corners and spend less, it's business as usual for government.

That's why I "joined" the libertarian party. I was looking for like-minded individuals who would work for the REVERSAL of government spending and handouts, commercial or private; people who would stand up to the local governments to prevent them from stepping on the individuals of San Angelo, not just watch them do it.

Perhaps ConchoInfo was right. Maybe I shouldn't have been the one to take over this blog. I tend to say what's on my mind. But I was the only one who would step up, and I will keep it until directly asked to leave. Funny thing about libertarians: individuals tend to be, well, individual.

In the coming weeks, I'm going to try and get back to what I wanted to do in the first place, and explain in layman's terms what libertarianism really means, and how it can be used at the local level to improve citizen government of themselves. It's about protecting individual rights and the limitation of government intrusion on consensual human interaction.

We really can have that in San Angelo. If we try.



  1. SnS, you seem to have missed my major point: If you're going to rant, and you want your rant taken seriously, do your homework. The 4B 1/2 cent sales tax you ranted about is an excellent example.

    I have actively fought against the 1/2 cent sales tax the last three times it's been on the ballot. The last time, I wrote the opposition view point in the paper, and was about the only dissenting opinion in the paper. On this blog, the smoke ban was covered once in April, and this voice of libertarian thinking didn't seem to notice there was a sales tax option on the ballot. The get out the vote message was totally about the libertarian candidate for governor. No mention of the local issues at all.

    There are many types of optional sales taxes a city could have. They must be voter approved and can't be more than 1/2 cent. There are sales taxes to reduce property tax. There is even a street maintenance sales tax available. Imagine an extra one to two million a year going to street repair instead of cattle barns or dressing rooms. These are all issues that we have control over locally. The city council decided instead of streets, we would have candy.

    It is possible, maybe even likely, that the cap on optional sales taxes could be raised in the future, but that can't be done locally. Must be done in the legislature, and I don't see that in the near future. The sales tax will probably go up, but the increase will all go to the state treasury. Local governments will be left to other devices.

    Which brings me to a new "tax" that the city has imposed in the last few years: The Storm Water Fee. Granted, it is on the utility bill, and it goes to pay for an unfunded mandate handed down from the feds through the state. Even though its on the utility bill, in reality it's a tax. At about 2million a year, that "fee" brings in roughly half what the 4B sales tax does. Or just under 20% of the property tax. Funny I haven't heard much about that here either.

    If you want to put a libertarian slant on local issues, know the local issues. If all you can say is "it hurts", all you can do is treat the symptoms. Kind of like giving an aspirin to treat a sucking chest wound.

  2. Still miss my point. You didn't complain about the 4b sale tax ballot issue until after it was already passed, and then you got a bunch of it wrong. You were trying to address what local government, ie. the city council, could do and speculated on what the state legislature might do. And you forgot the biggest tax increase the city has had in years: the storm water fee. You can call it a fee all you want, but it pays for some mandated federal projects that were passed down through the state. A sneaky way to increase the tax load to pay for an unfunded mandate. The storm water fee will bring in just under 20% of what property tax does. And it hits businesses the hardest because parking lots are "taxed" very heavily by this fee.

    I fully support your goal of applying libertarian principles at the local level to local issues. It really does help if you understand what's going on locally and know what the issues really are.

  3. No, I got your major point. I'm not you, and I don't know the ins and outs of local government like the professional watchdogs. Few people do. I never claimed to be "the voice of libertarian thinking." I've already said I got it wrong. I'm not saying it again.

    And I pretty much got it the first time. It really wasn't necessary to berate me twice on the same posting.

    But, thanks for the pep-talk.

  4. Sorry I came down on you. Getting frustrated with politics. Guess I was expecting Concho Liberty to be more than a me to blog repeating rants and platitudes that already flood the internet.

    This is your blog now. I will go away.