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June 2, 2014

Taxing Our Way to Prosperity?

Steven R. Berryman

Maryland is not unique to uber combined taxation; we are brothers with New York and New Jersey in this respect, with over half of all income taken away, on average. The force of law allows this to be so.


Combine state sales tax, gas tax, federal Income tax, rain tax, fire tax, city tax, county tax, payroll tax, fees, fines, penalties, mortgage property tax, real estate tax, inheritance tax, liquor and cigarette tax, medical device tax, transfer tax...and there’s not much left over.


Imagine if each of these was payable in cash, as opposed to a withholding, or escrow to one’s mortgage….the outrage would surely reverberate in Annapolis!


Maryland only barely stopped a “chicken tax” recently, to illustrate the absurdity of it all.


Do not forget that the original TEA Party was all about being T.axed E.nough A.lready; these people have not gone away, but are seething and watching as they gentrify.


The combined burden in Maryland recently presented itself when our fair state won the dubious honor of being the number two state in America for home foreclosure for the month of April. Great! Just ask somebody having a recent home appraisal.


Combine massive and undue taxation rate with the undeniable Inflation leaders – food and energy – and you have a recipe for flight from Maryland. Many are headed to Florida, West Virginia, Texas and Pennsylvania of late.


We have sin taxes, consumption taxes, income taxes, etc., but what do they accomplish? They create winners and losers among the population, depending on one’s tax liability. Small businesses are dis-incentivized as a result. Many established corporations – especially offshore – ride the freebee train as a result, gaining unfair advantage over small businesses…


...which stifles real competition and results in higher costs to consumer services and products.


When we tax something, we get less of it as a result. The Supreme Court of the United States has defined our new healthcare system as a tax. Will we now get less of it, or will only certain segments enjoy the widely promised advantages?


When we tax something, we redistribute wealth. This is most true in an income tax. A flat tax is considered regressive by comparison.


Income tax is corollary to “to each according to his needs…” The “flat” sales tax is not fair to those less able to pay, according to this moral imperative.


But again, what are you getting for your dollar forced from you under taxation, under penalty of incarceration? Does the 51 percent combined tax burden you pay in Maryland get justified by what you gain in return?


How clean is your water? How safe are your streets? Are you satisfied by being the “world’s policeman” on your nickel? Are the results of your schools better than international standards? Do taxes enable us to grow better quality food more affordably, or assure energy independence? How was your heating and water bill holding up last year?


The real question is: Who is the best steward of your hard earned income? Do you trust an overarching bloated government to make personal decisions for you? To what degree is reasonable?


I would propose that a national standard of a combined maximum taxation rate for any state be no more than 25 percent of any individuals income, similar for corporations, and forget overseas unfair advantages.


Would that our government be held to budgeting along these lines, I assure they could do it, adjusting over time, with the tough personal and political considerations eventually finding a meeting point.


Police could walk beats instead of “cruising.” We could charge the world for its policing under the State and Defense Departments. Duplication in services between federal, state, and local government, including training could be eliminated and unified.


Former City of Frederick Police Chief Kim Dine once told me that there were at least 17 different police and law enforcement services operating at one time now.


Nurse practitioners could replace doctors, as apropos, recipients of entitlements could be required to perform public service as a token of appreciation, [means testing could be used to fight corruption].


Upon the final analysis, do we really need to be paying huge sums of money to former Soviet nuclear scientists to NOT sell their secrets to the highest bidder? There is no end to OPM going to far distant wasteful causes…OPM is “Other People’s Money.”


In fact, the root issue is that it’s far too easy to spend OPM. As a legislator, the pain is but weak, and alas, there are no term-limits.


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