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P&C Never Met a Tax it Didn't Endorse

Shawn Keller

It seems like the only qualification to be an editor or a reporter with the Post & Courier is to be able to write the line "this tax would only cost the average family $xxx.xx a year" or "$xxx.xx on a $100,000 house." Whether its a school bond, sales tax, property tax, hospitality tax, business tax or any one of the other dozens of local taxes that we pay around here, the P&C obviously feels that the government needs those dollars more than any average family or homeowner.

To read the P&C, one would almost believe that our area governments are operating with bare-bone budgets equal to that of a public high school yearbook committee. However, if you could do the math, in spite of graduating from one of those public high schools around here, you would know that the combined annual budgets of Charleston County and the cities of Charleston, North Charleston and Mt Pleasant is $400 million. $400 million to protect us from criminals, pave the roads and pick-up the garbage - the incontrovertible basic functions of government. Crime statistics for 2003 show that last year we had the highest number of murders/ violent crime since the mid 1960's, a recent report showed that Charleston County has the worst bridges in the state and the roads speak for themselves. I have to admit though that I have been very satisfied with my garbage pick-up.

One could well argue that a public education and public transportation system are also basic functions of government, and I would be hard pressed to flat-out disagree. However, if our public officials spent our existing tax money on those three, previously stated basic functions only, we would have enough money left over to send every kid currently in public school to Porter-Gaud and buy every CARTA rider a new mini-cooper. As we're reminded of constantly, CARTA is in dire financial straights and reports indicate that the 50% of kids who don't drop out of school are graduating well below national average. Of course our government education system already spends as much per pupil as what tuition at some private schools cost and you could just about fit all the riders on some bus routes in just one of those compact cars.

I really believe our societal priorities gradually shifted somewhere between the Boston Tea Party and the $1 million golf cart tunnel. It seems that our prophetic politicians and their media myrmidons determined that entertaining the masses is the most important basic function of government. Just as how Roman circuses and gladiator matches were used to quell the grumbling citizens of Rome, personal liberty, individual accountability and actually keeping at least 50% of your income has been trumped by government operated golf courses, aquariums, water parks, museums, maritime centers and baseball stadiums. Hail, Caesar!

Unbelievably, even after a recent report citing the continual decline of attendance and revenue at all of these government operated ventures, Joe Riley, Jim Clyburn, Glen McConnel and many others still insist on using public tax money on more "world-class" boondoggles.

If I just wasn't so damn stubborn and selfish I would probably go ahead and concede that we should just "do it for the children" because after all "it takes a village" and its "only $100 on a $100,000 house."