Isn’t Taxation Supposed to Be Consensual… At Least in Theory?


This point in the Sakonnet Times editorial I mentioned earlier is worth a little more mental energy:

Voters, of course, flock to the bargain rate — a 3.5 percent tax hike faces long odds against a 0.9 percent alternative.

Specifically, it’s the “of course” that stands out, because it seems to imply that the job of government is to trick or otherwise coerce people into paying more in taxes than they would voluntarily pay for the services that government is delivering.  This way of thinking fascinates me, because I have to believe that if the people who say and write such things were to think them through carefully, they’d be forced to confront clichés that allow them to support certain comfortable positions that have no justification.

Thinking in terms of economics, the more-accurate statement is that Tiverton voters are not willing to pay the price demanded for the services actually offered.  Having spoken with many of them, I can attest that some significant portion, at least, is willing to risk deterioration of the services they do utilize on the chance that they can push back against corrupt waste sucked up by special interests.

The town library provided a good example of how the corruption works by pushing its supporters to approve of $1.3 million more in taxes so that their special interest could receive another $16,500.  On the day of the vote, one angry library supporter acted as if I was being ridiculous for complaining about the $16,500, when the reality is that simply paying that amount wasn’t on offer.

A more didactic example may be garbage pickup, which Town Council member Joe Sousa threatened might go away if the budget I proposed were to win.  The rationale for town-provided trash pickup is that the economies of scale make it less expensive than individual contracts, but that ceases to be true if the town government uses the threat of eliminating trash pickup to pour money into other things for which people do not wish to pay.  You don’t get the discounted trash pickup unless you also support everything else that goes with bloated government.

Throughout Rhode Island, taxpayers are realizing that the cost of the services that they do receive from government (often very poorly) have been made inextricable from things for which they would never willingly pay, like absurd job security and benefits for union members and handouts for favored groups, whether in human services or corporate welfare.  That’s why productive residents leave, and it’s a major part of the toxic formula that has pushed Rhode Island into its current death spiral.

  • Raymond Carter

    What you people who run this blog fail to realize is that it IS consensual.
    The Democrats have, for 80 straight years, continued to raise taxes and increase spending exponentially higher than the inflation rate; and the moron majority of the state keeps re-electing them.
    RI Republicans need to disband and start the Taxpayers party with concrete promises like cutting the property tax in half-immediately no “phase-in”, Wisconsin style labor reforms and bringing ALL government spending (welfare, fire, police, cronies, teacher unions, public works, etc.) down to national medians.
    Let the people have a clear choice instead of mealy mouthed losers like Fung and Avedesian.

  • D. S. Crockett

    Mr. Guest, we are not a democracy, but a constitutional republic which as been corrupted by the immoral alliance between the public sector and the government. So warned against by your icon, FDR. Facist!

    • Mike678

      Actually, guest is correct, though he/she’s trying to rile more than inform. A republic falls under the umbrella of a democracy, though it is not a ‘true’ democracy. And the RI majority does keep these corrupt clowns in power, though that does seem to be changing. Note that Tiverton’s voters exercised their democratic responsibilities and their decision was not IAW their representatives wishes. Next, they need to punt these deaf-ear politicians to the sidewalk.

      A Democracy also allows travel…a lot of people in RI are voting with their feet.