They weren't intending to be funny, I'm sure.
But the most hilarious discussion in recent days had to be the one that took place Friday between Augusta lawmakers and members of the Richmond County Board of Education.
School Superintendent Dana Bedden asked lawmakers to consider eliminating the school tax exemption granted in Richmond County to property owners older than 65.
Even funnier is that the lawmakers and trustees pretended to take the poor fellow seriously. Then the lawmakers called his bluff by telling the trustees that sure, they'll be happy to look at the issue - if the trustees would first pass a resolution asking for an end to the exemption.
Whew. Yeah. Like that's gonna happen.
Let's face it: The most protected class in our culture is seniors. Most of them would disagree, of course, but it is what it is.
The best proof of that is the lily-livered pandering from the president, who wants to give seniors a $250 check next year to make up for the fact that they aren't getting a cost of living adjustment in their Social Security checks.
The COLA is set so that it matches inflation. When costs rise, Social Security checks automatically increase by a similar amount. But there hasn't been any inflation this year; the cost of living actually has declined slightly.
The rules, then, say there should be no COLA. Yet the ninnies of the nanny state are scared that seniors won't like foregoing the accustomed raise, so they plan to toss them a $250 lap blanket.
Who pays for it? Not Obama and Congress! It's our grandchildren who'll get that bill. What do they care?
Bedden says the senior tax exemption, granted as local pandering by lawmakers and easily passed in a referendum dominated by its recipients, costs the strapped school system $7 million a year.
Doesn't matter. It could be "costing" them a bajillion bucks a year and they won't get rid of the exemption. The COLA cave-in shows why.
Seniors are among the most reliable demographic group when it comes to voting and are adamant in protecting their self-interest. If the lawmakers tried to take back that tax break, they'd get the boot at the next election.
Meanwhile, younger voters - who increasingly are paying the tab for seniors' Social Security and the phantom COLA checks - lack the perspective to understand how their votes, or lack thereof, could protect their interests. They won't look out for themselves, so why would any politician look out for them, much less pander to them?
It long ago became all but impossible to explain the horrific folly of tax exemptions. Liberals love 'em because they like to use taxes to reward friends and punish enemies. Misguided conservatives love 'em because they welcome any opportunity to cut taxes.
What both groups fail to acknowledge is that giving an exemption to any group, such as seniors, only spreads the same tax burden more thickly on fewer people.
A true conservative would want government to be as small as possible, and for as many people as possible to share the burden of paying for it. Granting an exemption to any group, whether it's seniors or timber owners or anyone noisy enough to demand it, only means that those not lucky enough to be in their clique will pick up a greater share of the tab.
In Augusta, that means if you are younger than 65 and own property, you're going to pay the school tax - even if all you have is a little bungalow in Olde Towne. But if you're older than 65, you're exempt - even if you live in a mansion on the Hill.
Dana Bedden is a good guy. He's the best thing that's happened to Richmond County's school system in a long time. But he can't be serious if he thinks lawmakers are going to make Augusta seniors pay school taxes again.
Talking about it is good for a laugh, though - all the way to the bingo parlor.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail email@example.com.
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