I have to take issue with Mr George Boardman’s 17oct16 Union column – ‘We don’t need no stinking taxes for libraries, pot or cigarettes’. First let me say that Mr Boardman and I read each other’s scribblings on a regular basis, and we enjoy wide areas of agreement and differences, the latter making for interesting discussions which are always civil. Mr Boardman is a gentleman and contributor of substantive thought in our community.
In his latest support of new taxes he somewhat gratuitously takes Republicans, “who apparently only like to spend money on law enforcement and the military”, to task. Specifically he duns the local conservatives for not supporting Measure A, an increase in local sales tax, part of which would go for the county library, and Measure B, the high school bond proposal. Mr Boardman’s arguments treat those issues in the classical liberal manner, painting opponents as philistines and knuckledraggers who neither understand nor support the pillars of western civilization. (OK, I did go a little overboard here, but you’ll get my drift when you read his column.)
The part that our columnist misses is that we already collect local monies sufficient to handle funding the library and deferred maintenance of our high schools. The problem as these pages, and most recently Mr Rich Ulery (‘When you see tax increases or bond issues, think pensions’), have pointed out is that we piss these monies away into “the bottomless pit of public employee pension costs and unfunded liabilities.” Nevada County’s carelessly and cynically negotiated public employee pensions now have its unfunded liabilities north of $180M, which puts a substantial annual draw on county tax revenues. This looming problem was raised to the supervisors ten years ago by SESF, at which time we were dismissed as fiscal illiterates bringing up an issue not important in the scheme of managing the public weal.
The standard response of progressives and other can-kickers to the county’s cash shortfalls has always been to ignore payment for past sins and just commit new ones through more tax increases. In short, cut the feedback to inform and motivate responsible voting with – ‘But there is nothing else that we can do.’ - the perennial whine from the Rood Center. Our political betters never consider that we can also do without as they explain to the electorate where the sufficient sums are going, and why they are being paid to Sacramento and not used here for libraries and schools. Not making this the public issue it deserves to be allows more crappy agreements to be negotiated that quietly create more unfunded liabilities. All of it underlines the fact that we citizens know better what to do with our earnings than dump good money after bad. And don’t get us started that we needed to pay for excessive pensions in order to hire high quality talent to run the county; that dog no longer hunts.
Before ending this diatribe let me just get in one more lick. From his “center stripe” sidebar Mr Boardman, with some self-satisfaction, observes that “ALL BUT one of America’s Nobel laureates this year are immigrants.” This little semantic sleight of hand illustrates what I’ve been crabbing about for years. Yes, many/most of our Nobel laureates are immigrants, notables who are not to be confused with our problem illegal aliens as Mr Boardman and his ideological ilk attempt to do at every opportunity (more here and here). Would the revealing and truthful “ALL BUT one of America’s Nobel laureates this year are immigrants and not illegal aliens.” been as politically impactive?
[20oct16 update] In an email Mr Ulery stated, "I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but the linked article (here) is another confirmation of the points I raised in my recent op-ed in The Union. An overwhelming percentage of tax increases statewide, purported to be for basic governmental services, are really to replace the general funds diverted to pay pension costs."
[26oct16 update] The difference between 'illegal immigrants' and 'illegal aliens' is best illustrated in this updated graphic that has appeared several times in these pages.