Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Get Me A Guillotine: South Carolina's Tax Reform and War on the Poor

You would think, in state that is so proudly “Christian” as South Carolina, the leadership would have a little understanding of how Christians should think. After all, yesterday, the Education Oversight Committee, deferring to the religious sensibilities of conservative Christians, was unable to decide how to teach the origin of life. So it’s not that our elected leaders don’t know there are Christians out there, they just don’t know what Christianity is, or its fundamental lessons.

That’s why they are hell-bent on making war on the poor. As Cindi Ross Scoppe points out in The State, they are intent on “reforming” South Carolina’s property tax laws at the expense of those who have the least property—the poor.

According to Holly Ulbrich and Ada Steirer of the Strom Thurmond Institute at Clemson, “South Carolina tax laws since 1990 have shifted the tax burden away from the top income groups toward middle-income taxpayers. This change makes the tax system more regressive.” So, to address the shifting tax burden on the middle-class, the Republican elite in Columbia want to tax the poor.

The crocodile tears from the beach-house-in-Edisto crowd belies the fact that South Carolina is 38th in the country in per capita tax revenue at $772, compared with the national average of $993. Of course that $993 includes lots of states where the poor can access essential services far better than they can here. Not to mention places with drop-out rates far lower.

President Pro Tempore Glenn F. McConnell (R-Charleston) describes property taxes as paying “rent to the government for the use of our property which we have paid for or will pay for with monies already taxed and risk losing to the government if taxes increase more than our earnings.” Since McConnell and Co. believe that property taxes are unfair to their (rich) constituencies, they are going to dismantle the system.

But of course, we aren’t going to fire the police forces, the road crews, the teachers, or any other public employee providing things even the rich need. So how will these children of Marie Antoinette fix the problem? With an increase in the sales tax.

Which would be let-them-eat-cake funny if we had guillotines at the ready. But, alas, we have no Bastille to storm. And the plan to increase the sales tax burden on the poor by 40% (from 5% to 7%, plus local options) is diabolical, to put it mildly. As Scoppe notes, “The poorest fifth of households in South Carolina spend 7.9 percent of their income on state and local taxes, while the very richest spend just 5.5 percent of their income on state and local taxes.”

So, watch the South Carolina Assembly reform property taxes. Then be ready for the wrath of God.

3 comments:

FunkyB said...

Tim, I have to recommend this blog to you. He's something special.

http://www.cowart.info/blog/

Call me if your son forgot to give you the message about your brother.

John said...

7.9 percent vs 5.5 percent, and with the tax changes comming up it will get even worse.

The current political culture we live in seem the think screwing the poor should be out national sport.

Great Work

NotVeryBright said...

The powerless are getting screwed again. And, worse than that, nobody cares.

Thanks for trying.