14 October 2011

Why I support sensible tax policy and reject The Tea Party/Fox/Reaganite narrative

I should get a few things out of the way first.
I am like everyone else. I hope one day that something I create, or do (some art, some character, some advance in human knowledge, my bumbling into a heretofore untapped vein of pure gold/oil/unobtainium) makes me filthy rich. How rich? How about rich enough that I could go to The Bunny Ranch every weekend and that my understanding and wonderful wife wouldn't even care rich. Not that I would go, but you have to admit, that is pretty goddamn rich. So I don't begrudge anyone getting rich in the US. I don't envy them, I kind of want to emulate the endeavor in some way (unless of course that wealth was ill-gotten, I'm looking at you predatory lendors, Enron etc). So I totally am behind acquiring wealth, and having the amenities and luxury that entails. I am down with wealth and having it.

However no one in this country acquired their wealth without the help of public support. I'm not the first person to note this. I won't be the last.

Consider my favorite NFL team The Indianapolis Colts. Or rather consider the cost of their new stadium Lucas Oil Field. The initial cost estimate of the stadium was 720 million dollars of which the Colts had committed to contribute 100 million. That left 620 million for the tax payers of Indianapolis and the counties that surround the 'Nap to come up with. The stadium of course ran over budget (cost covered by the taxpayer), and the operating cost of the stadium, around 27 million a year, also exceeds what was estimated (this creates huge yearly deficits to run the facility, much greater than the 7.7 million that the city expected to earn from revenues generated by having the facility around for the Colts). The Colts organization was required to come up with a whooping 13.1 % of the initial building costs of the stadium. This was for their own business! The tax payers covered the rest. I would certainly love to have that kind of deal from the state. One may ask why the Colts need state money at all, considering that the team isn't hurting for dough. The total players salaries for 2011 is $60,250,000 with a cap of ~96 million. That is just for the year 2011. Peyton Manning has a five year contract that will net him 90,000,000 dollars, which is 18,000,000 per year. Dwight Freeny isn't doing too badly for himself either, with 72,000,000 over 6 years, which 12,000,000 per year. Its hard to find numbers on what the organizations themselves actually earn, but if they can afford to pay these kinds of salaries to their teams they must be doing alright. One reason they are doing alright though is this. They have defrayed their operating costs with money provided by tax payers, who often didn't vote on the matter. The Indianapolis Colts are hardly unique in the industry for doing this. All professional sports teams utilize state support. Of course the NFL could do this in a real capitalist kind of way (go here see the teams worth, operating budget etc) For some reason though it won't. It prefers a socialism that supports and inflates their profits.

This may look like a tangent but it is not.
A question we have to ask is this. Given that the NFL generates, annually nearly 7 billion dollars, why is the NFL a tax exempt organization? Given that it makes billions, its teams are worth billions and tax payers help pay for the NFL costs of operation? The NFL is protected from market forces. Again why should it not be taxed, and why should its executives not pay taxes?

Some may argue that having a team like the Colts in the city of Indianapolis generates jobs, increases tax revenues so the concessions cities and states make to get them there are worth it. As we saw with the Colts the cost to the tax payers greatly overran the projected revenues Indianapolis and its surrounding counties expected to receive. Is it worth it? Well maybe there is a bump in the revenues for businesses around Lucas Oil Stadium when events are held? To which I say "fine". Maybe having the Colts in Indy is a great boost to the city and it justifies all the taxpayer cost. But I will point out, if you make that argument you are vulnerable to the same counter-argument Reaganites/Tea Party types use against helping the poor. Why should my tax dollars go to helping boost Applebee's bottom line through a convoluted and inefficient system of welfare called the NFL? I'm happy that for a few months a year the mall at Circle Center can hire a few extra people at minimum wage, and that the wait staff will have to work a little harder for a little longer and earn a little bit more money than normally do. I really am. But if I live in Indy, or the surrounding counties, why should I subsidize that? Why should I subsidize the NFL's massive profits? I must especially ask this since this corporation demands so much from tax payers. Why shouldn't it do this on its own?

The NFL is a microcosm of US business.
If you are scratching your head wondering how this can be the case. Its probably important to know that this is how a great deal of big US businesses, and little businesses operate. And you have to know right now that I don't think that is necessarily a wrong or evil thing. Good arguments can be made for governments helping businesses make a home for themselves, it can be good for communities. Just know that if you make that kind of argument, and many people seem to make that argument, it is another version of the argument for helping people on the other end of economic divide with tax payer funded programs. And it isn't an argument at all for allowing people no tax burden, or an unfairly minimal tax burden who accrue massive wealth with your help and my help. Of course I don't mean by buying or enjoying their products. When people pretend they have done it on their own, and should be allowed to keep all their hard earned, money that they earned, remember often we helped them make that. There are no bootstraps.

Just a thought. Now go come up with an idea that will make you rich with the help of fellow tax payers. Just remember your tax dollars are helping the next wave of your fellow countrymen do the same.

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