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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Strange times

Tough times put everyone on edge, wondering if there job will be there tomorrow and if it is, whether there will be belt-tightening that will force them to cancel a vacation or postpone a repair to themselves or their home.

So it's only natural to grumble when something goes up -- like the cost of a round of golf or the price to park at the beach. But that grumbling is a sign of the major disconnect in the concept of government services and who pays for them.

Ponkapoag golf course may not be in PGA Tour shape, but I can't help but compare its $30 weekend greens fee against the Globe's recent look at public course that "break 80," as in dollars.

Nor can I ignore the fact there are beaches that can be reached by bus or subway -- and usually for more than it costs to park a car in a beach lot.

We've been somehow conditioned to the idea that government services should be free. I frequently rail that is the ultimate mantra of the era ushered in by Ronald Reagan, aided and abetted by the talk show society that caters to the anger of the underdog.

It's the same mindset that says don't tax the super rich because someday that might be me.

We need a better connection with reality.

At the same time, Massachusetts lawmakers need a better connection too. The decision to raise the sales tax may not be a bad one at the end of the day. But the process, such as it is, has stunk.

To many people, it came out of the blue, with little discussion or justification, other than the fact it wasn't a major gas tax hike (although, ironically problems at the Turnpike and the MBTA are going to linger).

Gov. Deval Patrick, a late arrival to the "reform before revenue" mantra first embraced, now abandoned by Senate President Therese Murray, is threatening to send the sales tax back to lawmakers despite the fact Murray noted it passed by a veto-proof margin.

If he wants to maintain even a shred of credibility, he has to follow through on the threat. The Herald's Wayne Woodlief has more on that.

I don't have a lot of sympathy to complaints about raising fees for the cost of providing specific services. I do have issues with tax hikes that seem rushed, politically inspired and not clearly reasoned or explained beyond "because we say so."

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Anonymous George Snell said...

The United States needs to have an honest dialog about taxes. It's time to look at the tax code and how taxes are paid - and maybe reform it.

But the biggest discussion needs to center around this notion that taxes are "bad." We need an attitude adjustment on this poisonous mentality. Taxes are the price of civilization. It's the cost of law and order and what allows us to function as a society.

Taxes should be a considered an honored obligation. Too many of us - from citizens to corporations - think of it as a burden and for the benefit of others.

Taxes benefit us ALL. We need to start talking about it that way.

May 21, 2009 7:12 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...


May 22, 2009 5:51 AM  

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