Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Citizens of Atlanta Vote for More Traffic Gridlock, More Air Pollution, Less Economic Growth and Of Course, Lower Taxes

The Greediest Generation Marches On

As noted earlier on this Forum, on July 28 the good citizens of Atlanta held a referendum to see if they good citizens of Atlanta wanted to raise the sales tax and devote the increased revenues to repairing the worst traffic system in AmericaThe voters spoke loudly, and they spoke clearly.

The SPLOST—a delightful acronym for special-purpose local-option sales tax, a funding mechanism used in Georgia to allow communities to tax themselves for a specific purpose—would come up for renewal in ten years; if the required revenue were raised before that, the tax would go away. An oversight board would ensure that the funds were spent only on the designated projects. It was, in short, as politically palatable as a tax increase could be in deeply Republican Georgia. And in nine of Georgia’s 12 regions—including metro Atlanta, its biggest, richest and most traffic-choked—voters still said no.

Both supporters and opponents predicted a close race. Both were wrong: 63% of voters in the metro-Atlanta region said no, despite the strong support of Atlanta’s Democratic mayor, Kasim Reed, Georgia’s Republican governor, Nathan Deal, and the region’s powerful business folk, who fear that the notoriously dreadful traffic is hurting the city’s competitiveness.

Now let’s make sure everyone understands what has happened and what it means.  It’s not that the people of Atlanta and surrounding regions don’t want a better transportation system, they all do.  What they don’t want is to have to pay for it.  They are just like the huge majority of Americans, in favor of higher government spending, opposed to higher taxes.

The situation in Atlanta was not a partisan one.  Conservative Republican leaders and conservative business leaders supported the tax increase.  The situation was one that is becoming more and more typical in America, ‘hell no, we won’t pay’ attitude towards public services.

Republican are though indirectly responsible for this type of attitude.  They have run on the platform that taxes can be cut and that public services do not have to be cut.  Presidents Reagan and Bush II all championed tax cuts, and all championed huge increases in government spending.  So it is only natural for voters, particularly Republican voters to believe that such a situation can continue indefinitely. 

Of course if Mr. Romney is elected and Republicans really do, contrary to their past actions, try to reduce government spending then the conservative voters will find out what reality is.  They won’t like it.

1 comment:

  1. The NAACP and the Sierra Club also opposed the referendum.

    In addition, because of the misallocation of the resources and projects, the savings in commuting time was calculated to be only 2 - 3 minutes per driver -- hardly worth $8 billion.

    That voted-down potential tax source, which isn't unlimited, can now be available for bonds for education and better local uses -- and, without the suburbs being included within a tax district, not approved by voters, with the corruption in Atlanta and its counties.

    There actually are tax increases and government projects that are cronyism to the hilt and are not worth the hit to taxpayers.