Make the Government Pay

We just had a referendum in our town about whether we wanted good schools, whether we wanted to pay our teachers a living wage, whether we wanted curbside trach pick-up. Of course the vote was a resounding No.

We saw all these hand-painted signs up in town, “Vote Yes” two months ago, when they scheduled the referendum. These were people who went to school board and selectmen’s meetings and understood how much money the town needed to go on being a town.

Then, in the last two weeks, a lot of handpainted Vote No signs started popping up, saying the override would mean a 21.8 percent increase in taxes. That a fact. We elected the selectmen and the school board, and this is what they believed was needed to keep the town going, given the disastrous condition of the national economy.

But the opposition consisted of people who had never once been to a school board or selectman’s meeting, people who are saying they can’t afford a 21.8 percent tax hike because they need the money for whatever. Some of them are elderly people and family farms, but the town can give these groups tax breaks if people are really concerned about it.

And the election is fixed, really, because the override needs a two-thirds majorityto pass.

That’s the way the big landowners set it up when they passed Proposition Two and a Half in Massachusetts, the equivalent of Prop 13 in California. Both are public laws to limit the amount wealthy people and businesses have to pay.

Any savings for any individual homeowner, and this is true from the guy with the triple-decker in Jamaica Plain to the guy with the split-level on North Silver Lane in Sunderland, is utterly eclipsed by the amount of money you’ve saved for the banks and business owners and wealthy landowners.

By defeating the override, you’re beating your chest and announcing your determination to be a chump.

What you’ve done is limit the tax liability of the biggest landowners in town, people who don’t give a rat’s ass about the class size in the elementary school or the rate of pay of a town worker. The miniscule amount you save this year on your taxes will be utterly and completely wiped out by the amount you’ve save them. And the bill will come due in the end.

Maybe the town will go into receivership and the state will take over the schools and your children will get the message: they don’t matter; we’re too greedy. And you know what? Your taxes will go up a hell of a lot more than 21.8 percent and your property values will go down, making the percentage go up even more.

A lot of taxpayers think that if they gather together and wave their fists in the air they can avoid paying the increase in medical coverage for town employees or the increase in worker’s compensation.

I’m thinking of introducing a citizen resolution in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts calling for the repeal of all taxes and for a government payment of $10,000 to every citizen. No, make that $100,000. Are you with me? Isn’t it time we left the taxpayers alone and made the government pay?