On Saturday I was invited back home to help Lewis County, West Virginia, celebrate its 200th anniversary. Back in 1817 it was still Virginia, not West Virginia. It’s a fine county with Weston as the county seat. It used to have glass factories, featuring hand-blown glass, and a historic “Lunatic Asylum.” A chunk of the farm and timber land has been replaced by the Stonewall Jackson Lake and Resort. A Wal-Mart has replaced several Mom-and-Pop stores. It still has wonderful friendly folks who congregate in communities such as Jane Lew, Ireland, Berlin, Camden and Valley Chapel. Plus the popular state 4-H camp at Jackson’s Mill, and a couple of “Country Roads” known as I-79 and Corridor H. They also have the Stonewall Jackson Hospital and the Mountain Military Museum. The county could make room for the new Amazon headquarters, but I doubt Mr. Bezos would see the wisdom of that decision.
“I am here [in Boston] helping them celebrate their 300th Anniversary. As somebody here from the outside, I don’t see how they can tell when you are celebrating your 300th and when you ain’t. You can’t look at the town and tell when it is celebrating. I drove down here in a car tonight and the ruts we hit must have been 300 years old.” (Will Rogers, Radio, June 15, 1930)
I read where the Census Bureau says the 2020 Census will cost almost $50 a person for an accurate count. Does that seem too high? I bet they could locate 300 million of us just by checking with Facebook, Twitter and Amazon. So they expect to spend at least $200 a piece to track down a few million folks that don’t particularly want to be tracked down. I think they could bring these people out of hiding a lot cheaper just by announcing that for the next ten years anyone who isn’t counted will receive no government money or services.
The President and Republicans in Congress say they want to reform taxes. Democrats are against it unless the rich pay more. Republicans say they want to reduce tax rates for everyone, especially those in the middle.
If you ask a Democrat how much of the total federal income tax the top 1 percent or the top 10 percent should pay, you never get an answer. Should it be 60 percent? How about 90 percent? None will answer, except for Bernie Sanders who will answer bluntly: 100 percent.
A concern of both Democrats and Republicans is what will happen to total revenues if tax rates are cut. Republicans say revenues will increase; Democrats say they will drop. Well, the last time we had major tax reform was under President Reagan in the 1980s. Tax rates were cut, and, believe it or not, tax revenue went up. Yes, from $600 billion in 1982 to over a trillion in 1990.
They are arguing over deductions for state and local taxes, and mortgage interest. Why should the taxpayers in the “low tax” states, and the majority who pay very little or take the standard deduction, “subsidize” those who itemize in New York, California or Illinois? Of course those folks will complain to Congress, but the ones they should be complaining to are their state and local politicians to get those taxes lowered. And in the same way why should those in expensive homes with high mortgages get subsidized by those who rent or have paid off their mortgage?
Historic quotes by Will Rogers:
“It’s a great country but you can’t live in it for nothing.” DT #2343, Feb. 5, 1934
“The crime of taxation is not in the taking of it, it’s in the way it’s spent.” DT #1764, March 20, 1932
“People don’t mind spending their money if they know it’s not going for taxes.” June 26, 1926