Commentary By Chuck Michaelis
Those of us who grew up in the ’70’s can’t help but remember several rock ‘n roll classics. One of these memorable classics is Meat Loaf’s Paradise By The Dashboard Light. What does this song have to do with principled public policy, you might ask?
Well a quick look at an article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer (PD) should make it clearer. On Saturday July 21, 2007 they ran an article titled Medical Mart sales tax hike would be limited to 20 years.
Let’s see who’s paying attention. What’s wrong with the headline? That’s right, it’s a “temporary” tax, and will “only” last for 20 years. Now you’ll pardon this writer’s cynicism about oxymoronically named “temporary” taxes. And you may have something of a point. After all, a temporary telecommunications tax instituted in 1898 to help defray the costs of the Spanish-American War was eventually ended- in 2006. Originally 1 cent per call, it grew to be 3% of the total phone bill before Congress realized that the Spanish-American War had been over for nearly 108 years, only lasted 3 1/2 months and resulted in the acquisition of the Phillippines, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Caroline Islands, thus actually paying for itself. So granted, it was technically a “temporary tax.” On the other hand, who remembers Ohio’s “temporary” two-year 20% sales tax increase of 2003? Feeling the mounting pressure of a coming election, the Ohio GOP leadership engineered a “tax rollback” to only a 10% increase in 2005 before making the change permanent. So much for a “temporary” increase.
Of course, erstwhile gubernatorial candidate and current Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan (whose 2002 gubernatorial platform included a statewide tax increase, thus making him the only honest candidate on taxes in that race) “promises” that the temporary nature of the tax will be in the resolution approving it. Who, in twenty years, will remember that this proposed sales tax increase was only temporary? And even if someone does, how long will it be before someone in Cuyahoga county government declares that the tax must be kept to pay for “necessary services” whose continued funding is “critical?”
The proposed 0.25% increase in the Cuyahoga county sales tax is, of course, a boondoggle corporate welfare scheme. It provides a private showcase for its goods to a privately held for-profit corporation who has made a very nebulous pledge to do it’s best to bring a few medical conventions to a permanent convention center to be built by the county for its benefit. No real promises, mind you, but they’ll try real hard in exchange for the $450 million (!) taxpayer dollars required to construct this monument to fraud and waste. Why isn’t this corporation building its own showcases? Why would it if gullible city and county leaders can be hoodwinked by pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by “pledges” like this one to do it for them? If Cuyahoga county voters allow this to be passed without some type of taxpayer response it can truly be said that while Cleveland may rock, it certainly cannot think.
The Cuyahoga county taxpayers will find themselves in the same situation as the male singer of the Meat Loaf rock classic whose final regretful lament is-
So now I’m praying for the end of time
To hurry up and arrive
Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
I don’t think that I can really survive
I’ll never break my promise or forget my vow
But God only knows what I can do right now
I’m praying for the end of time
It’s all that I can do
Praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you!!!
Because ’til the end of time is about how long they’ll be dealing with that tax increase.
Chuck Michaelis is the president of Rocky Fork Formulas, Inc., a dietary supplement design and distribution company. He is also the Executive Director of Camp American, a week-long summer Christian worldview education camp for ages 12 years to adult. He is currently the Vice-chairman of the Institute For Principled Policy. You can contact him at [email protected]