Free To Speak
Rodney Simmons

Wheel Tax

Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2016, at 2:59 PM
View 77 comments
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  • Why do we have to have one or the other? The state, county, city always wants to spend more money. So what if the criminals don't have a nice cushy place to reside? We don't always need new and better. If the people USING the service really want BETTER, then maybe the people using the service should pay for it.

    -- Posted by fair share on Wed, Feb 24, 2016, at 3:51 PM
  • You forgot to mention the "impact fee" that is placed on building new homes. The rate is $1.00/square foot. Supposedly, this money goes directly for schools.

    I don't know how many new homes are being built in Bedford County, or the average size. I do know I have lived here all my life and would like to build a new house. The total cost, just for the permits on a 3000 ft. house, is right at $5000.00 dollars before I even break ground.

    The recent lawsuits have hurt the Counties finances. Was anyone held accountable?????

    We are being taxed to death, literally.


    -- Posted by Liveforlight on Wed, Feb 24, 2016, at 5:56 PM
  • While I would agree with your feelings on taxes,the value you put of .33 only would bring in what the wheel tax would have. That being said it is already proven the wheel tax will not cover or make payment on these projects.If the wheel tax passes I would say it would take another .33-45 cents on the property tax to fund everything.Will property tax have to go up 60-75cents? I think so.If it ain't broke why fix it. Overcrowded schools have been an issue for the last 20 years and the state and federal gov continues to cut funding on them.Get the jail done and revisit schools as more money comes in, zone the schools so as to relieve crowding.

    -- Posted by mytaxesaremine on Wed, Feb 24, 2016, at 5:58 PM
  • When the city floats a plan to spend 11 million on new soccer and softball fields, it's hard to believe they're serious about budgeting.

    No way to they need another method to tax us.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Wed, Feb 24, 2016, at 11:20 PM
  • Quite Mike; the City and the County are completely separate entities. The Wheel Tax is County. The Park is City. Unfortunately, very few of the people casting votes have even the most elementary understanding of how the government is structured. If voters were required to know what they were actually voting for, the election results would look like baseball scores. (For what it is worth, I am not in favor of a Wheel Tax)

    -- Posted by lazarus on Thu, Feb 25, 2016, at 12:45 AM
  • Lazarus, I know this. But the county is paying for city schools. Maybe that should be revisited?

    -- Posted by quietmike on Thu, Feb 25, 2016, at 5:56 AM
  • It is revisited, Quite Mike, with painful regularity.... All the sales tax collected in Bedford County goes to the State first. The State keeps the state portion, and then sends both the City and the County their shares (minus a processing fee). At some point in the distant past, the City Council voted to give a portion of the City sales tax to the County for schools... According to City legend, this was to be a temporary measure, to cover some specific construction. According to County legend, this was to be a perpetual measure... Whichever version of the original intent is true, the City Council that enacted this distribution did not designate a time, or circumstance, calling for the termination of said distribution. And so, it continues to this day.

    With the same regularity that the City Council grapples with hotbutton issues like barking dogs and trees on the Square, that City sales tax distributed to the County is brought to the forefront. No telling how many City Councilmen have vowed, upon entering office, to correct this great wrong, thereby solving all the City's financial ills (by passing them on to the County). Great battles have been fought over this distribution of the sales tax, yet nothing has changed.

    It must have been a different world, some golden era of cooperation, when all the schools in Bedford County consolidated into one. However that occurred, as a fiscal conservative I applaud the financial savings of not having the taxpayers fund the administration of two (or more) separate school systems within the same County.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Thu, Feb 25, 2016, at 7:16 AM
  • In case you have not read this, here is Commissioner Heflin's viewpoint on how to pay for a school and a jail without the wheel tax.


    -- Posted by Rodney Simmons on Thu, Feb 25, 2016, at 7:34 AM
  • lazyrus, would you make them pass a test on the subject matter? Would you be willing to also require voters to show a valid ID in order to vote?

    -- Posted by fair share on Thu, Feb 25, 2016, at 2:59 PM
  • Does every commissioner have a website and description of their opinions and ideas for the future? Not a bad idea.

    In his statement about school zoning he observed that "By allowing high school students to select which school they attend we have the reality that many desks, even entire classrooms can and will be vacant at SCHS and Community while we spend money to build a larger Cascade."

    Is that an opinion or document-able trend? If so, my first thought is why?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Feb 25, 2016, at 3:10 PM
  • Steve Mills: The zoning issue was a point I thought of when the issue of a new school was first mentioned. I don't think that our county commissioners or the board of education members have done an in depth study to really understand what is needed or what is the best option, if they have they have not shared it. So many feel that Cascade is the best school in the county and they want their children to attend that school and those are the same people that are strongly pushing for a new Cascade school. But one question I have is what would the population of Cascade School, as well as the other schools in the county be, if the zoning was enforced. We don't know if any school would be over populated if zoning was enforced and neither the commissioners or the board of education has addressed this as far as I know.

    -- Posted by Rodney Simmons on Thu, Feb 25, 2016, at 5:06 PM
  • As a fiscal conservative, I have some issues with Commissioner Heflin's plan, and the numbers on which it is based. To begin with, the General Fund Revenue and Expense variances. I looked up the Bedford County Budget for 2014-2015, and it was presented showing a General Fund loss of $4,048,728. If I correct that by the amount of variance that he showed, there is still a loss of $992,380. Losing a million dollars in a year really does not cry out that there are loads of excess funds to spend.

    In addition, the Revenue variance only amounted to 7.23% of the total estimate. Commissioner Heflin might feel that the budget should hew closer to the actual, but I personally believe it is wise to budget conservatively. And, due to the limitations of governmental accounting, it is hard to say exactly what those *actual* figures mean. In governmental accounting the *real* revenues are not counted, only the cash received. Unpaid current taxes, and paid delinquent taxes can easily skew that number by 7%. And the referenced allowance for protests is more than reasonable. If some portion of those taxes must be repaid in future years, then that revenue is an illusion. The expense variance was 9%. Commissioner Heflin suggests that budgeting unfilled positions is an error.... If those positions are not budgeted, they cannot be filled. In government, it is not uncommon to leave a budgeted position unfilled for an extended time, for the purpose of saving money. However, the government does need to be able to respond to changing situations. For example; maybe the highway department might leave some positions unfilled during the winter, when fewer projects are going on. However, a major winter weather event could result in an epidemic of potholes. The same people who complain most bitterly about taxes are probably the same ones who will be incensed if there are not work crews out all over the county repairing the roads. Instead of complaining about unfilled positions in the budget, perhaps we should appreciate the effort to conserve our tax dollars?

    Lastly, and this is a pet peeve of mine, is the expenditure of nonexistent money. Commissioner Heflin commits one of the most common elected official errors. He takes debt service that will be complete, and assigns that "money" to new projects. This is a fallacy of logic, because no one will be writing a check to Bedford County for that money. Eliminating an expense is not the same thing as adding a revenue. Every budget is a brand new calculation, and, while the elimination of one major expenditure might increase the possibility of having funds to spend, it is not a guarantee. Situations constantly change, prices increase, employment costs go generally upwards, and governments are particularly susceptible to large casualty losses (like those lawsuits.) In this case, Commissioner Heflin's "extra" money was gone before the budget even began. The county lost about a quarter million dollars more in 2015 than the debt service payment that will end in April 2016.... debt service changes more than a year away are not even worth considering.

    I don't have access to a lot of numbers, but those are enough to cast serious doubts on the feasibility of this plan.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Thu, Feb 25, 2016, at 9:11 PM
  • Leaving the numbers for a moment, what happened to the "conservative" talking point of "school choice?" Remember school choice? At the state level, our "conservative" legislators are preaching that allowing children to attend the school of their choice will create market forces that improve underperforming schools. Now, at the local level we have suddenly discovered that "school choice" creates additional expense, due to the difficulty of predicting attendance numbers. So, which version of "conservative" is right? Do we allow school choice to create better schools, or do we enforce strict zoning to save money?

    -- Posted by lazarus on Thu, Feb 25, 2016, at 9:21 PM
  • Good point Lazarus. The whole idea of "choice" falls apart in the absence of "responsibility".

    The idea being that the money should follow the "choice" of sending a student to a particular school. If the need for the school at Cascade has been driven by choice, why hasn't the money already followed? If there are empty seats and classes at Central, why was the money spent there instead?

    Holding people, particularly elected representatives, responsible is missing these days. Massive lawsuits, misappropriated money, corruption, and incompetence are rewarded with lifelong pensions and benefits instead of prosecution/dismissal.

    -- Posted by Liveforlight on Fri, Feb 26, 2016, at 5:05 AM
  • If the wheel tax is passed, it will never go away. It will only grow larger. Remember a few years back we were promised a reduction in sales tax on food. We got it but then it was rescinded before going in to effect. In mu opinion, an elected officials words are good for the amount of time it takes to say them.

    -- Posted by cherokee2 on Sun, Feb 28, 2016, at 3:50 PM
  • Nonsense that school choice creates extra expense.

    The reason the money didn't follow is because it is still controlled by a monolithic government, instead of the parents.

    If we really followed school choice Cascade would be getting more money for providing the model that was wanted, while the other schools would get less when they didn't.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Mon, Feb 29, 2016, at 1:32 PM
  • Quite Mike;

    The expense money does follow the students... The *additional* expense Commissioner Heflin was concerned about was the capital expense of building a larger school, and then having the students all decide to go to a different school. Bedford County would then have spent more money to build a larger school than was needed in one location, and still be faced with overcrowding, and a call for another new school someplace else.

    This is a legitimate point. School choice is a great idea. But, it will cost the taxpayer more money... which conservative principle do we follow?

    -- Posted by lazarus on Mon, Feb 29, 2016, at 2:17 PM
  • If we followed the conservative principle, the county wouldn't be funding a new school. That cost would be part of the "tuition" that followed the students to the school they chose.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Tue, Mar 1, 2016, at 8:22 AM
  • What "tuition" Quite Mike? From where?

    -- Posted by lazarus on Tue, Mar 1, 2016, at 1:30 PM
  • Maybe from the people using the service? What a remarkable thought.

    -- Posted by fair share on Tue, Mar 1, 2016, at 2:35 PM
  • The "tuition" is the tax money that is currently taken to use for schools.

    In a free market, the cost of building a new school would be figured into the cost per student.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Tue, Mar 1, 2016, at 7:48 PM
  • Exactly fair share

    -- Posted by quietmike on Tue, Mar 1, 2016, at 7:49 PM
  • So you two don't have a serious, grown up answer.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Tue, Mar 1, 2016, at 11:12 PM
  • In the real world, looking to another to make all your life choices and provide all your needs is called being infantile. Most of us eventually grew out of that phase of our lives. Liberals just try to pass it off as an enlightened ideology.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Wed, Mar 2, 2016, at 6:38 AM
  • I will give you enough credit, to believe that you know you are just talking nonsense, now.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Wed, Mar 2, 2016, at 9:47 AM
  • What nonsense?

    Using the failure of government as an excuse for even more government is like trying to drink yourself sober.

    Democrats are like addicts,always looking for their next government fix. Nevermind two thirds of the budget already goes to entitlement spending and nearly every democrat platform is about avoiding personal responsibility.

    Is the thought of running your own life really that terrifying?

    -- Posted by quietmike on Wed, Mar 2, 2016, at 11:19 AM
  • Well from the results of the election it looks as if the Cascade community does not feel the need for a new school. You would have thought it would have carried there if no where else.May be that the school board needs to revisit its planning to a possible annex to solve the problem. Within reason it could be the fix without spending millions.I think there may be more wanting there name on a plaque than conserving tax dollars.

    -- Posted by mytaxesaremine on Wed, Mar 2, 2016, at 11:33 AM
  • Lazyrus, what is your "grown up answer"? Let me guess: "since people are too(pick one) stupid/lazy/incompetent to take care of themselves then obviously the government (which consists of stupid/lazy/incompetent people) should take care of them. Now I would agree with you for a very small portion of the people that truly have a severe developmental delay or overwhelming handicap. Not talking about the majority of those that con their way to the welfare trough. But the great majority of people can take care of themselves, they just never have had to. I feel sorry for those that truly believe the government can take better care of them than they can. But after a while the sorry wears off and I realize they get what they deserve.

    -- Posted by fair share on Wed, Mar 2, 2016, at 12:43 PM
  • What does welfare have to do with school choice and building new schools? The benefit of an educated population is universally recognized. With the exception of the US, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and some Sub-Saharan African countries, every nation on earth legislates some level of education for their youth. And, in the US, that legislation comes from the states. Your answers do not address the question.

    For what it is worth, I was opposed to the wheel tax. As Commissioner Heflin pointed out, it is not a "more fair" tax. It merely disguises the actual level of taxation by spreading it out over multiple sources. Voting against the wheel tax is not a de facto vote against school construction. For that matter, I am not in favor of building a new Cascade High School. I think we should turn Cascade into Bell Buckle High School, and build a new War Trace High School. Smaller schools are better schools.

    Neither does that address the question. School choice means higher construction costs for schools. Which is more important, preserving school choice or saving money on construction?

    -- Posted by lazarus on Wed, Mar 2, 2016, at 3:09 PM
  • I'm sorry for talking over your head lazyrus. I was mocking the idea that big government does well taking care of people. Welfare is not the same as education. But just as people could do better taking care of themselves economically they just might do a better job with education. If they pick the school their kid will go to and they pay for it, then the school is better motivated to provide a good education (competition in the marketplace).

    -- Posted by fair share on Wed, Mar 2, 2016, at 3:26 PM
  • Since everyone who benefits from an educated population pays for the schools now, you are casting your vote for higher taxes.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Wed, Mar 2, 2016, at 5:36 PM
  • You falsely assume government provides the better educated populace.

    The US spends more per pupil than any other country, yet we graduate students that are functionally illiterate. Or student's performance against students from other countries in math and science is slipping despite spending more.

    My sister and brother-in-law are both teachers and when a student tells them they won't do their assignments because they'll pass anyway, because passing students are needed to get funding, and that student passes, despite the teacher giving them a failing grade, the system is broken.


    -- Posted by quietmike on Thu, Mar 3, 2016, at 7:00 AM
  • It is interesting that you believe that comparing the students of our government run schools unfavorably to the students of government run schools from other countries somehow proves that government run schools do not work. Perhaps even more interesting is that almost all of these countries are the ones you decry as "socialist."

    Since Finland was at the top of the list, I looked for information on Finland's education system. A few things struck me right away. More than half its students are immigrants. A third receive personalized attention in elementary school. And the last... they believe in small schools! These are positive *solutions.* "School choice" and defunding the schools were not the paths Finland chose.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Thu, Mar 3, 2016, at 7:59 AM
  • Our students used to test better against students from other countries before the feds got so involved.

    We used to be at or very near the top for math and science.

    I guess in your rush to defend socialism, you missed the part where we spend more per student?

    Children that are homeschooled consistently outperform those going to government schools.


    -- Posted by quietmike on Thu, Mar 3, 2016, at 10:25 AM
  • All of those other countries' education systems are driven by their national governments.

    Who is defending socialism? You are the one who produced a list of "socialist" countries, whose national governments drive the education system, as outperforming ours. How is that evidence that we should run our education system like they do in Haiti?

    -- Posted by lazarus on Thu, Mar 3, 2016, at 10:47 AM
  • Calm down Cantrell.

    -- Posted by Blessed Assurance on Thu, Mar 3, 2016, at 6:07 PM
  • Maybe if you read that Washington Times article about homeschooled children consistently outperforming government schooled children it might be made clear to you.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Thu, Mar 3, 2016, at 7:52 PM
  • So, then, is it your belief that all children should be homeschooled, or (since that really is not possible) that we need a 1:1 teacher student ratio?

    Don't worry too much about my emotional state, BA. It is more bemusement, than excitement. I am just trying to wedge out what, exactly, it is that Fare Share and Quite Mike think should be done. It seems to me that the current congress has done exactly what they were voted in to do. They complain a lot, and mouth a lot of platitudes... but have no solutions.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Fri, Mar 4, 2016, at 2:03 PM
  • I'm saying even Stevie Wonder could see the current system is broken. Instead of adding to that broken system it should be redesigned.

    It's foolish to think a one size fits all solution is the best fit for every locality.

    Get the feds out of the mix and let the states and local communities run their schools.

    Give the parents their tax money back via vouchers and let them pick the school that offers the best program for their children.

    When is the last time you heard of a teacher being let go simply because they were a lousy teacher?

    With a voucher system, they would have to perform to keep their job.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Fri, Mar 4, 2016, at 5:58 PM
  • Why do they need vouchers, when they can already go to any school they please?

    -- Posted by lazarus on Sat, Mar 5, 2016, at 8:34 AM
  • Parents can use their tax money to pay tuition at Webb School? Victory Baptist academy?

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sat, Mar 5, 2016, at 9:01 AM
  • Be careful what you wish for. Webb school would require a much larger outlay of your tax dollars than what is paid to send kids to public school. I know that more money does not equal a better education, but someone needs to tell Webb that. It is a pretty safe assumption that Webb would not simply accept any Bedford County student that applied. Webb achieves great results by, not only spending more money, but selecting only the students that are fairly well guaranteed to succeed. So, you would see few, if any, additional kids going to Webb. You would simply dish out more tax money, to pay private school tuition for the affluent families in Bedford County. Then you would still have to pay the same amount for your public schools.... If you have a voucher system which requires the private schools to take any kid who applies in order to tap into our tax money, then I am all for it. Do you think there is a snowballs chance in (July) that Webb would go for that?

    -- Posted by lazarus on Sat, Mar 5, 2016, at 9:57 AM
  • Step back from the liberalism for a minute.

    No one said anything about forcing anyone.

    The tax money in a voucher system would belong to the parents to use as they wish.

    Webb school belongs to its owners to do as they wish.

    If a student applies, and Webb accepts, the voucher could be used for partial payment, with the parents picking up the balance.

    Allowing schools to refuse students is beneficial as well.

    Nearly every teacher can tell you of disruptive students with attitude problems that should have been kicked out or otherwise handled long ago.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sat, Mar 5, 2016, at 12:37 PM
  • I don't know where you get this "liberalism" nonsense. Liberal is not another word for sensible. All the voucher plan does is increase your taxes and mine, to pay the private school tuition (be it all or in part) for people who already can afford it. There will be no additional school choice. Webb does not want those students at Cascade, and they will not take them. Cascade students who will help Webb "achieve" those high standards can get academic scholarships now. Vouchers would change nothing, except taxes.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Sat, Mar 5, 2016, at 1:01 PM
  • Once again, no one is saying the vouchers should pay the full tuition at a place like Webb. There is a set amount of taxes per student. That amount should be able to be used by the parent at any school they choose. If that amount doesn't cover all the tuition, then the parent covers the difference.

    There would be no increase in taxes.

    I know full well liberal isn't a synonym for sensible, quite the opposite usually.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sat, Mar 5, 2016, at 5:33 PM
  • How, exactly, does the county provide money to the students attending Webb and Victory without increasing taxes? Webb Tuition is $17,000 per year, Victory tuition and fees about $2,500. Victory has 85 students, probably all from Bedford County. Webb has 301 students, an unknown percent from Bedford County. Currently the taxpayers contribute $0 towards the tuition of those students, but has over 8,300 students, for which it is spending over $8,000 per year, or around $66 million. If we take a guess, and Webb gets 1/6 of its students from Bedford County, that is an additional 50 students for the taxpayers to fund. Add 85 for Victory, and that is 135 additional students. 135 additional students at $8,000 a head, is an additional $1 million per year. That means the taxpayers would have to fund a $67 million annual budget, rather than $66 million. Even if you pay the extra by borrowing money, in my version of fiscal conservatism, the bottom line is that, sooner or later, someone has to pay. And the government borrowing money, given that the government never turns a profit, is only a way to ultimately pay more.

    If we only pay the $2500 per year it costs students at Victory, then you reduce the additional cost to $600,000.... But, any way you cut it, more expenditures equals more taxes. And, I would consider it a pretty safe bet, that, if we make $8,000 per student available to pay for private school tuition, the cost of an education at Victory would find its way to $8,000 per student fairly quickly.

    As far as increasing student choice is concerned, how will that happen? Victory already has its 85 students. Teacher-student ration is one of their selling points, and they only have 6 teachers. To increase their enrollment, someone would have to pay to expand their facilities.... who pays, the taxpayers? This is what the whole controversy is already about. The same holds for Webb. They have their 301 students. To take more students, the school would have to expand. Who pays to build a larger Webb? You cannot build a school out of the $8,000 per student already being spent to cover their yearly educational expenses.

    And, we cannot leave out the homeschoolers. If you are going to throw around money to pay for everyone's educational choices, they will not accept being left out. How many students does that represent? I have no idea, but there are 73 members of the yahoo group for Bedford County Homeschoolers. It is a safe bet that each of those members represents more than one homeschooled student. It is equally likely that there are even more homeschoolers that do not belong to the yahoo group. Homeschoolers could easily equal or exceed the number of private school students,and do you doubt that those devoted homeschooling parents can find a way to utilize their $8,000 a year?

    It is uncertain at best, unlikely at worst, that vouchers would have any effect on the schools students attend. It is a lead pipe cinch, they would increase taxes.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Wed, Mar 9, 2016, at 11:04 PM
  • I'll type this slowly so that you might be able to keep up this time.

    The county already spends a set amount per student for yearly schooling costs. That amount is given to the parents in the form of a voucher that they can spend where they please on schooling.

    It could be used to cover some of the tuition at a place like Webb or Victory, with the parents being left to cover the balance.

    You do understand the concept of a balance?

    Its the payment still owed after a partial payment.

    You keep trying the strawman of taxpayers funding the full cost of attending private schools when I have never advocated that position.

    The 1/6 of Webb students who are from Bedford county already have parents paying their taxes into the county coffers.

    No one is saying those schools must increase their enrollments or expand. That is a business decision for them to make and would be paid for by their tuition rates, not the taxpayers, as the taxpayers would still only be paying that set amount per student, with the parents covering the......balance.

    There would be no extra expenditure by the county or the taxpayers to implement this plan.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sun, Mar 13, 2016, at 11:16 AM
  • No mike. I am afraid that you have not gotten the point. It has nothing to do with paying full or partial tuition. It has to do with the number of students we are paying for.

    We are paying a set amount per student in public school. We are not paying anything for the students going to Webb and Victory. You are proposing that we begin paying for those students as well as the ones in public schools. If we are paying $8,000 per student for 8,300 students now, and next year we pay $8,000 per student for 8,500 students, that is more.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Sun, Mar 13, 2016, at 9:39 PM
  • The Bedford county kids already going to Webb have parents paying taxes to Bedford county. Why shouldn't they get to use their money like anyone else?

    Is the thought of their free money just too sweet?

    -- Posted by quietmike on Mon, Mar 14, 2016, at 3:37 AM
  • They do get to use "their" money just like anyone else.... It is their choice not to do so. Bedford County public schools are charged with educating any child from Bedford County who enrolls.

    Of course, it is not just their money that is used. They also use some of yours, some of mine, and some of everyone else's money. Why should we taxpayers pay for a school which will not accept all of our children, but only a select few?

    It is not like we have a major disagreement on school choice. I am in favor of school choice. As Commissioner Heflin rightly pointed out, not enforcing zones means that we will pay more for schools. In my mind, a conservative should recognize when our choices mean greater expense, and pay for them. If we chose to have enforced school zones, there would be no need for a larger Cascade. If you believe in school choice, then you have no room to complain about paying higher taxes to build a bigger Cascade.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Mon, Mar 14, 2016, at 8:07 AM
  • They do get to use "their" money just like anyone else.... It is their choice not to do so.


    What choice? You have to pay your taxes and send your child to our school, or you have the choice of simply paying the taxes anyway.

    Some choice.


    Why should we taxpayers pay for a school which will not accept all of our children, but only a select few?

    With vouchers, the parents tax money would follow their child. What could be more fair, except maybe privatizing all schools.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Mon, Mar 14, 2016, at 9:56 AM
  • "What could be more fair, except maybe privatizing all schools."

    That would put us in good company, Quite Mike. We could join the other nations with no functional public schools.... Somalia, Eritrea, Haiti, Comoros, and Ethiopia.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Mon, Mar 14, 2016, at 5:23 PM
  • I know the thought of not being able to rob your neighbors of their property is terrifying to liberals.

    Should we socialize tomatoes as well since the angst of selecting and paying for produce not only brings distress, but also the possibility of disease if not done correctly. How can individuals be expected to accept such a burden without government to guide them?

    Perhaps you've forgotten that homeschooled students outperform public school students?

    -- Posted by quietmike on Tue, Mar 15, 2016, at 4:18 AM
  • I am sure the people in Somalia wake up every day, grateful that they have been spared the horror of government run schools.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Tue, Mar 15, 2016, at 9:02 AM
  • I'm sure liberals wake up every day, pining for just a bit more government spending.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Tue, Mar 15, 2016, at 6:16 PM
  • I think they wake up every day secretly thanking God they made it thru 1 more night not having to actually take care of themselves.

    -- Posted by fair share on Wed, Mar 16, 2016, at 3:14 PM
  • So, is this all you have? Platitudes, irrelevant factoids, and gratuitous insults to your imaginary enemies?

    In summary, you are opposed to paying taxes to build more schools. But, you are in favor of school choice, which necessitates building more schools. In addition, you are in favor of school vouchers, which will (again) cost us more. In my world, conservatives believe that you must pay for the things you want.

    Or, maybe you are against having schools at all? After all, homeschooled students perform well. Again, we seem to be missing that part where you explain who will "homeschool" the kids, since both parents are forced to work in nearly every household.

    So, you conclude the discussion where you want something for nothing, by accusing those nasty "liberals," whoever they are, of wanting something for nothing.

    The "Tea Party" types have certainly elected people who represent them perfectly. They complain a great deal, but have no solutions, and accomplish nothing. I can think of many names for them. Conservative is not one.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Thu, Mar 17, 2016, at 11:13 AM
  • Both parents have to work because liberals want everything given to them "for free".

    2/3 of the entire federal budget goes to entitlement spending, all created by democrats, because they're terrified of responsibility.

    Cut the spending then you can lower taxes and the average household won't be sending over half their income to the government, and one can afford to stay home.

    But in true democrat fashion, you use the failure of government involvement as an excuse for even more government meddling.

    Acting like an ACTUAL adult, instead of just someone lucky enough not to die before their 18th birthday, isn't that terrible.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Thu, Mar 17, 2016, at 3:17 PM
  • Nope. All you have is talking nonsense.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Thu, Mar 17, 2016, at 9:47 PM
  • Simply calling it talking nonsense is merely argumentative. Better to explain why it is talking nonsense....

    Let's look at the "entire federal budget." When we talk about the "entire" budget, we include social security. Social security accounts for 24% of the entire budget, however it has no effect on your taxes. Social security is paid into a fund, from which our own money is later disbursed to us. While we have recently reached a point where payouts exceed contributions, we are decades away from emptying the fund. So this has no current effect on taxes. Medicare is also partially funded by these same payroll deductions. Payroll deductions fund 41% of medicare expenditures. So, to get an accurate measure of where your federal tax dollar goes, 41% of medicare spending must also be deducted. These two items account for 32% of all the monies disbursed by the federal government.

    Altho you specified the "entire" budget, including social security and payroll funded medicare reduces the % of the budget spent on the "entitlement programs" which you are sure are singlehandedly responsible for all your taxes. I am only taking the other 68% of federal spending, the part paid from your actual taxes, and breaking it down into percentages spent on each category:

    defense=24%.....medicare=10%....medicaid-14%...ACA-1%...interest...9%...veterans benefits-12%...transportation (roads/etc)-3%...education-4%...science/medical research-3%...international-1%...all other-4%..."safety net" programs (your entitlements)-15%

    I don't know about the math where you come from, but 15% is not 2/3 in my world.

    But, maybe we can just toss in some other programs to bring that number up. After all, when you begin with an answer. it is just a matter of manipulating the question. For example, medicare. That is another 10%. What is wrong with those old people who feel entitled to medical care. They need to grow up and be real adults like you, and just die when they get sick... Of course, there are always those nasty unintended consequences. Medicare accounts for 22% of the revenues of our medical care system. Eliminating that expense would create an economic catastrophe in medical care. But, what the heck. Those doctors and nurses and support personnel need to be adults, too...right? Then we can eliminate medicaid and education for a total of another 18%. We won't need the education, since we are going to shut down the schools anyway. Nor will we need the medicaid to provide medical care for children. Since they won't be in school, they can all work. Maybe they can manufacture shoes for Nike, instead of those 3rd world country kids that are doing it now. They can pay for their own medical care, then. And we can surely pull out that 1% for ACA. Just because that money is used to subsidize working people who do not make enough to pay their insurance premiums. In Quite Mike's brave new world, they will have all those income tax savings to use for their medical insurance... except they don't really make enough to pay much in taxes.

    There, we have already eliminated 58% of the federal government spending. Sure, we collapsed the economy, our medical care and education systems... but, we still haven't reached that magic 2/3 number. Fortunately, we still have another class of freeloaders to go after. All we have to do is eliminate the veterans benefits. Those men and women need to grow up and be adults, right Quite Mike? What do they think, just because they had a few odd limbs blown off, they deserve a free ride?

    You can look up the real numbers in a hundred different places. They may vary slightly, due to different ways of categorizing expenditures or even rounding differences. But, they consistently fall in the same range.... or you can just talk nonsense.


    -- Posted by lazarus on Fri, Mar 18, 2016, at 1:10 AM
  • In what alternate reality is a mandatory "payroll deduction" forced upon us by government not a tax?

    And you want to claim someone else is talking nonsense?

    What's wrong? In you're entire working life it never occurred to you that their might come a time where you'd be too old and infirm to continue working, so maybe you should put money back for that time?

    Social Security averages a 1.5% return on investment, not even keeping pace with inflation, nevermind if you die before the benefit age you lose all the money.

    Social Security is only a good idea for the irresponsible who suck at math.... otherwise known as democrats.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Fri, Mar 18, 2016, at 3:38 AM
  • I did not say it was not a tax. I should have specified that it differs from your income tax. While I consider it a tax, it differs from the income tax in that I never actually see it as income. And there is no issue of squaring it at the end of the year with a refund, or additional payment... A little different now that I pay it in the form of self employment tax, but too much detail only bogs down the discussion.

    Again, I think we differ due to our different perception of being a conservative. I see nothing conservative in wasting my time making grand pronouncements what everyone else "ought" to do. Conservative is grasping what people will do, and acting accordingly. And one thing people do not do is plan for their retirement. Some do. I did. It sounds like you did (or are). But significant numbers of people do not. Never have. For the forseeable future, they never will. As much as you might want to follow their model government, we do not live in Somalia. We are not going to watch large numbers of old people starve. So, social security is an excellent solution. It does not cover the sort of retirement most of us aspire to enjoy. But it does provide some retirement income. Thanks to social security, the people who are not smart enough to prepare for their own retirement, will still pay their own way, rather than me having to do it with future taxes. On a personal level, it will make a nice flow of income in addition to my real retirement, should I ever tire of working. Does it have a high yield... No. It is invested in the safest and most reliable investment available. Smart people have some portion of their retirement placed somewhere safe, rather than gambling it all for a higher yield, anyway. Am I guaranteed to get back every penny I put in? No. If I die before I draw it all out, I won't get it all back. If I am dead, I won't care. I am not going to waste my life obsessing over any possibility that someone else benefits because I was on this earth. If I live a really long time, I might get back more than I put in...Personally, if I get back more than I put in, I will pretend that the extra came from you, and derive pleasure from the hole that gnaws in your gut.

    Here is the reality of social security. Using figures from 2009 (and all of these have only been increasing) Social security was the most significant source of income for Americans over the age of 65. 38% of their total income. 66% (here is something that really is 2/3) of Americans over 65 received more than half of their income from social security. 35% got 90% or more of their income from social security. And remember, social security barely provides for subsistence living. That is all money you and I would have had to make up with our own taxes, had social security not existed.


    Social security is only a good idea for realists, who can do math.

    I eagerly await your next tangent. I will have to respond as time allows, as I am entering a very busy time with my work.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Fri, Mar 18, 2016, at 11:22 PM
  • I don't care what people "ought" to do, unless and until their choices affect me.

    I'm not conservative, but a libertarian.

    Do whatever you want, but accept the consequences of your choices without trying to make someone else responsible.

    If someone doesn't save for retirement, there's no reason another should be forced to provide for their irresponsibility. If others want to voluntarily help them, that's their choice.

    Providing all needs only breeds more immaturity and contempt, like the family that recently blamed the homeowner for shooting their relative who was breaking into their house, asking "where else is he going to get his money for clothes and school?"

    There is a huge chasm between helpimg someone and enabling their behavior. Or current sysyem makes zero distinction between the two.

    As far as what we should do in such a rich country, you would do well to remember we're not only a broke country, but 20 trillion in debt with 120 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

    We simply can't afford to be nurse maids to folks who can and should be providing for themselves.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sat, Mar 19, 2016, at 3:30 AM
  • You said Social Security and 41% of medicare must be deducted to get an accurate picture of our taxes.

    Why would that be? Taxes are taxes.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sat, Mar 19, 2016, at 7:29 AM
  • "Taxes are taxes."

    Really? So, you would be one of those people who thinks a state income tax would be an acceptable alternative to sales tax? After all, "Taxes are taxes."

    I could waste a lot of time talking about sources and applications, user fees, special use taxes, etc, but I would be more interested to know if you have a philosophical break with the rest of the Tea Party types, and really think "Taxes are taxes."

    -- Posted by lazarus on Sat, Mar 19, 2016, at 8:57 AM
  • OK Quite Mike, I acknowledge your belief that old people who did not plan for retirement should be left out in the snow to die.... perhaps you could assign your own estimate of the probability of that happening. My estimate is somewhere around a zero percent chance that we start watching old people starve to "teach them a lesson."

    Again, you may find your belief runs counter to that of many Tea Party types. Because the portion of our population that receives all or nearly all of their income from social security is way over-represented in the Tea party ranks.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Sat, Mar 19, 2016, at 9:24 AM
  • Taxes are taxes to the extent it is government mandated force that takes them.

    You can call them whatever you like, just as obama's lawyers trued with the obamacare "fee" but SCOTUS smacked down that idea saying it was a tax.

    The people who paid in to SS should get their money.

    I don't know how old you are, but I've been getting statements from SS for some time showing my total contributions and expected payouts.

    Whatever has been funded, should be refunded and the great ponzi scheme ended. If you can survive with the government withholding 6.2% of your pay, you can afford to invest that same 6.2% yourself.

    My estimation is that none would starve, because if we stopped treating people like idiot children, they'd stop acting like them.

    You don't need a guardrail on Hwy 231 south separating the lanes even while traffic is whizzing by in the opposite direction from you at 55mph or better with all the twists and turns.

    Why? Because people understand the consequence of not paying attention and using due care.

    Every miracle advancement such as seat belt, air bags, or anti-lock brakes that are supposed to dramatically reduce the number of deaths never do because people have an innate level of acceptable risk.

    The same is true with finances.

    Remove the safety nets and people will adjust their behavior accordingly. Those who don't are no different than people who lean an aluminum ladder against high voltage lines. Darwinism works.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sat, Mar 19, 2016, at 9:42 AM
  • Darwinism does work and we need to quit trying to counter-act it. SS is a scam. The money we pay into it has already been spent. Soon payments will have to be made by the taxpayer, assuming the country hasn't collapsed yet. I am 7 years from my SS full retirement age. If they would just let me keep what I will have to pay in from here on out and them keep everything I already paid in, I would jump on that like a lefty on a free meal. And I am sure I would come out ahead on that deal.

    Quick question for lazyrus: when is a tax not a tax? Answer: when someone else has to pay it but I (or you) don't have to pay it.

    -- Posted by fair share on Sat, Mar 19, 2016, at 11:30 AM
  • "Every miracle advancement such as seat belt, air bags, or anti-lock brakes that are supposed to dramatically reduce the number of deaths never do because people have an innate level of acceptable risk."

    Vehicle accident fatalities per 100,000 population topped out in 1937 at 29.357. At that point, the carnage was sufficient to spur various actions to reduce the toll. One of the earliest significant safety measures were seatbelts. As seatbelts became more commonplace the death rate steadily dropped to near 20 per 100,000. Since seat belt laws were instituted, the death rate has never topped 20. It went below 15 in 2000. In 2013, the rate of deaths in vehicular accidents per 100,000 population was down to 10.345.... Of course, the measurement of deaths per population fails to take into account the ever increasing number of miles driven. Comparing fatalities to miles driven, the highest fatality rate was in the first year this statistic was measured (1929): 24.09 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. This number steadily declined to a little over 10 deaths per 100 million miles in the 1940's. With the introduction of the seatbelt, the rate began dropping again, plateauing around 5 until the airbags came into use. Then it began to drop again as the airbag equipped cars filtered into the vehicle pool. As of 2014, the fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled...1.07. less than 10% of what it was before the seat belt came into being. What, exactly, would you consider a dramatic reduction?



    My problem here, Michael, is that after more than 3 weeks on this undulating thread, you have yet to produce an objective fact that checks out. There is sort of a natural tendency to think you are making things up and do not know what you are talking about. How can I assign credibility to opinions which are not based on any actual facts?

    -- Posted by lazarus on Sat, Mar 19, 2016, at 11:10 PM
  • http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1564465,00.html

    Sad you only seem concerned with fact checking tangential issues and not the underlying fact.

    We've spent 20 trillion on the war on poverty since the sixties and the poverty rate is essentially unchanged.

    Even you admit the plurality of retireees whose only income is Social Security.

    Doing things for people they can and should be doing for themselves does not encourage responsible behavior.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sun, Mar 20, 2016, at 3:36 AM
  • As for producing facts that check out, your first claim was that we need more funding for education. I posted an article showing we already spend dramatically more per student than any other country.

    I guess I should follow your example and not try to post any facts and let my argument rely on my feeeeeelings?

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sun, Mar 20, 2016, at 4:05 AM
  • Nope. Never said we "needed" more funding for education. I said your belief in school choice would cost more...not in per student education spending, but to build more schools. And the little feel-good blurb about the war on poverty having no effect. Already disproven. Not going to waste any more time redoing it. The war on poverty itself has already accomplished what it can accomplish. You cannot forever rely on the same solutions to produce additional results. But it had a dramatic effect on poverty in its time.

    What you call "underlying facts" are not facts at all. They are opinions, based on nonfactual information. Do you know what "facts" are? You have yet to post one that you can support.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Sun, Mar 20, 2016, at 9:06 AM
  • Do you get royalties from that old Morris Albert song?

    Is that why it seems your record is broken?

    Feelings, nothing more than feelings.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sun, Mar 20, 2016, at 11:50 AM
  • -- Posted by quietmike on Sun, Mar 20, 2016, at 12:01 PM
  • "The war on poverty itself has already accomplished what it can accomplish. You cannot forever rely on the same solutions to produce additional results. But it had a dramatic effect on poverty in its time."

    I totally agreed that the "war on poverty" approach has long since run its course. It had a tremendous initial effect, and yielded a declining rate of return for about 10 years, after which it should have been replaced, revised, or retired. You will notice that each of these declarations of "failure" point out that the poverty level is the same as 1967... 3 years after the inception. Unfortunately, it is back to 1967 levels because of competing current policies that amount to a war on the poor. The poverty rate has been increasing over the past few years. At any rate, the real truth is that business likes the "working welfare," where people have jobs that do not pay enough to live, and you and I subsidize these businesses by paying out the difference. People would not work, if they were going to work and starve (would you?). I still believe that people who work should make enough to live. I don't think everyone should make the same, but enough to live seems a fair bottom level for people who work.

    Another place we would be in general agreement, is that over time, the war on poverty approach has proven to be a negative motivator. Over generations, applying for government assistance becomes a life skill. Government, unfortunately, just tends to keep doing the same thing, and if it ceases to yield positive results, the response is to do more of it.

    The war on poverty has long since outlived its usefullness, but, in its day, it was not a failure.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Sun, Mar 20, 2016, at 4:44 PM
  • The poverty rate was already in steep decline in 1960. It continued to fall at roughly the same rate until 1970, when it flattened out. Looking at the numbers, the war on poverty had no noticable effect.

    If anything the war on poverty stunted the rate of decline in poverty.


    -- Posted by quietmike on Sun, Mar 20, 2016, at 6:35 PM
  • The war on poverty worked alright. It taught people to depend on the government more than on themselves. It is very sad when people think that the guvment can take better care of them than they can. On the other hand, they get what they deserve.

    -- Posted by fair share on Thu, Mar 24, 2016, at 3:04 PM
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