"A little learning is a dang'rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again” – Alexander Pope
The following paragraph, which appeared in a Hartford Courant editorial, “A Bad Bill Worsened,” a day after April Fool’s Day, is itself more shallow than most of the assertions made by the paper in a previous thoughtless editorial:
“The state is forgoing much-needed revenue — about $27 million a year at the current price level —that most drivers won't miss. This is money that could be used to balance the budget or to repair bridges and roads — an area the state is short on by $1.4 billion. Research indicates that poor roads increase maintenance costs. So pennies' worth of savings for drivers could mean millions of dollars in repair costs for the state.”
The state -- by which we are to understand Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic dominated General Assembly but not, pointedly, the people of the state – instituted the largest broad based tax increase in Connecticut’s history days after the elevation to the governorship of the first Democratic chief executive in more than twenty years
The notion that such a tax increase, levied to pay for the improvident spending of previous Republican governors and the Democratic dominated General Assembly, is GOOD for those people in the state who pay taxes is a matter much open to dispute, since progressive taxation generally moves money from productive citizens to rarely satisfied, ever demanding tax consumers. The vehicle by which such taxes are distributed is, of course, state government.
In view of the largest tax increase in state history, one might quarrel with the editorial writers of the Courant on a few points.
Is the $27 million in tax revenue the state will “forego” as a result of the tax relief provided by the bill to which the paper objects so vehemently in two editorials really needed by the state? Is it not possible, for instance, for such a tax pinched governing authority to move into road maintenance all the money it gives as gifts to profit rich crony capitalist companies?
The paper argues in its editorial that tax payers will not miss the tax relief provided by the bill capping the gross receipts tax because it is so small as to be almost negligable, little more than a pea under the princess’ massive tax mattress.
If this is true, will not the loss of revenue to the state be even more negligible? State appropriations, after the largest increase in Connecticut history, are cresting at about $21 billion each fiscal year, a figure that would have horrified former Governor William O’Neill, the last Democratic governor to hold office before the advent of Mr. Malloy, whose last budget was a modest $7.5 billion. So insignificant is the tax relief provided by the Len Suzio inspired gross receipts cap bill, Courant editorialists argue in their brief for higher taxes and increased spending, that “most drivers won’t miss” the savings they will realize when the tax is capped, an objection to tax relief that parallels that of Queen Marie Antoinette. If taxes were so high as to cause the well plucked pre-revolutionary citizens of France to forgo meat, said the soon to beheaded Queen, “Let them eat cake.”
Somewhat like the editors of the Courant, the aristocracy of France in months and years before the storming of the Bastille failed to identify the state with the people of France, a lapse in judgment noticed by Danton and Robespierre, preferring instead to conflate the state with the king and state administrators in the manner of Louis XIV, the “Sun King,” who is reputed to have said, “L'Etat c'est Moi” -- I am the state. The Sun King’s death bed confession to his successors, however, is generally forgotten by those who conflate the administrative and taxing power of the state with the people: “Do not follow the bad example which I have set you. I have often undertaken war too lightly and have sustained it for vanity. Do not imitate me, but be a peaceful prince, and may you apply yourself principally to the alleviation of the burdens of your subjects” –chiefly the extravagant taxes imposed on the people by the sovereign state.
Not only will the tax cap savings fail to resister with gas consumers but, the Courant adds ominously, the taxes lost “could be used to balance the budget or to repair bridges and roads — an area the state is short on by $1.4 billion. Research indicates that poor roads increase maintenance costs. So pennies' worth of savings for drivers could mean millions of dollars in repair costs for the state.”
Somehow, the Courant fails to note in its editorial that about half of the tax on gas the state collects – about fifty cents per gallon-- is dumped into the general fund, which perhaps would explain why the Malloy administration is short on its bridge and road repair obligations by about $1.4 billion; deferred obligations do add up quickly.
Nor does the Courant note that “the state” – by which the paper means the state’s governing apparatus -- has improvidently given away tax dollars it otherwise might have used for bridge and road repairs to large and prosperous too-big-to-fail Connecticut corporations in order to bribe such companies to remain in the state rather than seek out more low tax, low regulation environments elsewhere in what is becoming the United States Of Crony Capitalism.
It is always best for those who favor increasing spending and taxes not to drink too deeply of the economic Pierian Spring.