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The Valley Reporter
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‘Citizens deserve good value for taxes paid’

Thinking about Mike Malekoff’s view in The Valley Reporter of August 25, 2011, I agree strongly with his choice of problem areas but find his conclusions to be based on casuistic reasoning. Here’s my view in the order of his article:

Most certainly the federal government can cut its spending. Better government management and continual auditing could reduce waste in essential programs (such as contributory pensions and health care) and could eliminate obsolete programs, such as non-contributory pensions for members of Congress and, especially, the grotesquely high and self-perpetuating military budget. This highlights another problem:  the voting record of representatives and senators who persist in ignoring citizens’ best interests by favoring the military/industrial/congressional complex and the lobbyists. Senator Sanders is the exception to this bloc; he has the courage and clout to say it as it is.

It has been a privilege to live and operate in this country and its taxpayers should pay a fair share of its cost—and progressively. Many corporations, however, have relocated their operations and jobs overseas with the effective result of less taxes paid to Uncle Sam. Is this fair? Corporations, although legal persons, are neither human nor–in many cases–humane.

I agree the government should always balance expenditures with revenue. Why then do voters tolerate a Congress which allows an unjustified and unfunded war and the perpetuation of a lowering of taxes on the well-to-do during a critical war status?

In my experience corporations succeed without government help; sometimes they fail which is the nature of risk capital. Investments by both individuals and corporations should be based on the individual investor’s decision on the potential return.

The recent approval of an increase in the debt ceiling is not an increase in our debt; usually it is a routine procedure to cover peak needs in our national cash flow. I confide in President Obama to avoid abusing this new limit in the long run; but now he needs to address critical needs, even including special shoes for disabled returning veterans of the Iraq war. The bigger problem is getting Congress to act on the prudent cost-cutting measures cited above.

I understand most of the farm subsidies go to mega-corporations; I believe this should stop. But the government should—for both local and national security—help the broad strata of smaller food producers.

Mike’s and my property taxes have indeed jumped tenfold in the multiple decades we’ve lived in The Valley. (The education part of my Fayston tax bill stands at 88 percent.) One shouldn’t blame Bernie Sanders nor President Obama for this. The fiscal legerdemain of the state Legislature skirts the gross inefficiency of Vermont’s educational structure, which distributes too much money to overhead and too little for competent professional teachers. State politicians don’t want to touch this problem which should be described as “general mismanagement” rather than “local control.”  Sadly, it’s the schoolchildren who lose out.  So this is a Vermont problem. For non-residents to pay even part of the education costs when they have no voting rights appears to me abusive,  yet many second-home owners probably accept this as a trade-off for living part time in this special valley.
 
Taxes are essential to good governance. Citizens deserve good value for taxes paid but also have the obligation to be aware and to insist upon good performance. Here’s hoping we can strike a balance, raising educational and peace-keeping standards to those of Sweden or Finland without quite as much taxes as the Scandinavians pay but with a more equitable division of the burden.
 
                                                                     
 
 
Arthur Trezise lives in Fayston.

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