At his final Columbia County Commission meeting before his retirement from office, Tommy Mercer thanked those with whom he'd served for eight years. And he took a shot at cowardly critics.
He and I are singing off the same sheet of music on that one.
Because everything I write has my name attached to it, I'm also irritated by comments from gutless cowards who hide their identity and attack from the bushes.
For example, there's one particular fellow who even has his own file in my office under "Anonymous Guy."
He makes photocopies of newspaper clippings, or sometimes the county's water-bill newsletter, and writes comments in the margins. He then mails the entire packet without a name or return address.
His commentary sometimes is interesting, though my grain-of-salt test doesn't give it much weight because he's too chicken to attach a name to his beliefs.
And because most of Anonymous Guy's comments are anti-tax, I wasn't surprised at a recent mailing that came my way in which he agreed with The Chronicle's recent editorial calling for an artificial cap on property tax assessments.
But I was just a little surprised, and more than a little aggravated, that Anonymous Guy lied about me.
Yeah, I know, like that's never happened. But specifically, here's what Anonymous Guy wrote:
"Paschal campaigned for the rainwater runoff fees and the 6-year SPLOST program in The Columbia County News-Times."
We warned citizens, repeatedly, that the stormwater utility fee was being conceived. Then, when it was imposed, we said, "See, we told you." We did later argue against the group that sued to challenge the fee - and were proven right when the suit was thrown out of court and taxpayers still had to pay the fees to defend it.
And SPLOST? Anonymous Guy must have missed the editorial in which we recommended that voters reject the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum in November.
(For that matter, let's brag: Voters casting early ballots approved SPLOST. But a majority of voters on election day, after the editorial ran, voted against SPLOST.)
Perhaps all this would be somewhat less irritating if it weren't for the fact that The Chronicle's assessment-cap editorial was one of the worst violations of free-market principles by an otherwise conservative editorial page that I've seen lately.
Want your taxes cut? Me, too. But you won't get it from gimmicks like a phony tax "freeze." And you won't get it from arbitrary "caps."
As one astute observer notes, a "cap" on tax assessments, in Government Land, is actually a mandated increase. If the state imposes a property tax assessment cap of, say, 3 percent per year - the amount recommended by The Chronicle editorial - then every county government is guaranteed to raise the assessment of every piece of property, every year, by 3 percent. And every piece of property not subject to the "cap" will be hammered with maximum increases to make up any perceived difference.
So, how do you get tax cuts without violating free market principles?
First, you get them by insisting on electing conservatives who are less inclined to see money as the solution to every problem. And then you look in the mirror: If you're complaining about traffic, or the lack of pavement on the dirt road in front of the house you bought on a dirt road, or crowded classrooms, or asking for any of a plethora of government services, then you are making a case not for less taxes, but for more.
n short? You get tax cuts by insisting that politicians spend less. And by demanding less in the first place.
The only thing you'll get from gimmicks is frustration when they don't work - and ignorant cynicism from frustrated folks who misdirect the reasons for that failure.
If that's all I had, I guess I'd stay anonymous, too.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com, or cal 706-863-6165, extension 106.)
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