That’s the title of an op-ed column in the latest IBJ by a professor of law and public policy. Our children have heard us preach that truism from an early age. Unfortunately, the user of that phrase goes off in an entirely unjustified rant about people (ignorant Hoosiers?) being unwilling to pay for necessary government services.
Some of us are getting pretty tired of that kind of abuse. What we are opposed to is the diversion of tax revenues away from areas where we were told they would be used.
The first example might well be the Food and Beverage Tax which was supposed to pay for the construction of the RCA Dome. After about a quarter century, when the building was to be razed, we learned that we still owed the full cost.
Since we started writing this blog, we have publicly wondered why no civic leader or media representative has ever raised the question - "What the hell happened to nearly 25 years of revenue from that tax?" And frankly, we wonder what the status of the debt for the new football field might be.
The beat goes on. After years of new and increased local taxes - much of the revenue from which is used to support actions of the CIB - we have recently increased a tax, a small portion of which will go toward public safety. Yes. The rest of it goes to the CIB.
The author of the column uses the words, "When municipal taxes can’t support an adequate police force..." and veers off to proclaiming the then necessity of private protection agencies and how stupid that path is. We have to ask, is the word "can’t" justified by the most miserable set of fiscal priorities this side of Cyprus?
We "can’t" have a police training class for budgetary reasons, while handing a professional sports franchise $10 million a year. Agencies supported by the property tax are strapped for cash while the powers-that-be continually expand TIF districts which sap those needed revenues.
The author mentions public transportation with the implication that need for public subsidy thereof is self-evident. But the proposed Red Line express bus goes directly to the Palladium. Today’s morning paper tells us of a program this very evening at the Palladium with a top ticket price of $133. Those folks don’t need a bus. But we support wholeheartedly the idea of getting the guy who lives in Irvington to his job in Lawrence without having to go downtown to do it.
There are very few of us who complain about paying for necessary and appropriate government services. But there are a lot who are damned mad about the diversion of public monies to pie-in-the-sky boondoggles. Will we be called know-nothings when we protest putting a roof over Georgia Street? That was mentioned at one time, you know.
The fact is that municipal revenues appear to be very adequate to meet municipal needs in this city. If there is a problem, look at expenditure priority - or lack thereof. Let’s not continue justifying the automatic demand for more tax revenues by calling those asking for common sense obstructionists.
The situation here is that through decades of the policy of corporate welfare and direct subsidy of professional sports, some folks do appear to be getting a free lunch. Except for the fact it ain’t free. The parks, IndyGo, schools, public safety and other legitimate public functions are being short changed to provide the gifts.
The ordinary taxpayer will recognize the need to pay a policeman or fireman, and do so gladly. The same taxpayer is entitled to wonder why public money is also being handed to billionaire franchise owners and their millionaire employees.
And that taxpayer is also entitled to question these priorities without being call stupid and selfish. Especially by a professor of law and public policy who should know better!