It seems that one man’s dream is another man’s nightmare, especially these days. For instance, recently a day does not go by without another speech by President Obama demanding that millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share (e.g., significantly higher taxes), and be subjected to some politically expedient requirement known as the “Warren Buffett Rule.” Apparently only the wealthy are not paying their “fair share." But isn’t this just a not-so-clever class warfare euphemism to be applied to anyone who has discovered that they “qualify” for the alternative minimum tax?
… which does not mean that you are either a millionaire or a billionaire.
The news is so unsettling that it has recently caused me several nightmaric episodes, the latest of which occurred two nights ago. In this latest dream, Westborough has been incorporated as a City with a powerful Mayor and City Council. Elections have replaced the historic town meeting, and a determined Mayor has just been re-elected to a second term, and he is addressing the City about the meaning and mandate of his victory, especially his “Fair Plan."
His speech begins with the pronouncement that Westborough must be transformed to look more like the rest of the Country … “Effective immediately," declares the Mayor, “everyone will pay their fair share to keep the City running.” Accordingly:
- 49% of homeowners will no longer be required to pay property taxes because the budget cannot be balanced on the backs of the people with the smallest homes.
- Rents will be frozen for the next four years because renters are obviously not wealthy enough to own a home and therefore, in fairness, need public assistance. It’s only fair that landlords share like everyone else.
- Residences currently assessed in the top 10% of all Westborough homes will receive a rate increase of 50% since these homeowners are obviously over-consuming their fair share of the City’s resources, and can readily afford to pay their fairer share. Most probably welcome the opportunity.
- Property owners not taxed at the highest rate, but who have no children either in the Westborough Public Schools or in College, will be upwardly assessed by 10%, since they do not have the gravity-defying escalating cost of college expenses looming, and can afford to pay more. Fair, after all, is just fair, unless, of course, they are among the 49% small homeowners who will pay no taxes, because, as already noted, that would be unfair.
- Taxes on Commercial properties will also be increased by 25% under the Elizabeth Warren Rule, because their profits are clearly the direct result of their selfish use of roads, education, and public services that have been provided for them and made their success possible. It’s only fair that businesses share the wealth gained because of the work of others.
From the pit of the auditorium comes a question: “Mayor, isn’t it immoral to present a spending plan of $120M when the City’s 2013 budget is $95M? Even after your fairness plan is implemented the budget will not be balanced because the added taxes from the few will not offset the elimination of tax revenues from the many. That seems unfair and poor fiscal management. And, isn’t it also unfair to risk lowering the credit rating of the entire City by accumulating debt that cannot be repaid?"
The Mayor’s response was quick and condescending, “How can you even put a price tag on fairness? After all, fair is fair, and what is unfair about that”?
At this point I woke up in a cold sweat convinced I was in a circuitous loop in a Dr. Seuss book. Two days later I am still trying to figure out if this was just a dream or a real nightmare.
Tell me it isn’t so.