Monday, September 1, 2008

Convincing the People to Pay More (Part II)

Last week, I explained how hard government officials will work to meet their funding needs by trying to convince people to pay higher taxes, instead of working hard to make ends meet without passing on the higher bill. Many times, this is accomplished by claiming that any number of Armageddon-type scenarios will most certainly occur if people do not agree to increase taxes.

I also explained how that in my years of watching local, state and federal government activities, I have never felt that any of the many proposed increase have been needed.

This year, for instance, the Oklahoma Senate passed an amendment to a House bill that would increase your driver's license fee by several dollars. The fee increase was to be used to support the funding of driver examination stations all across Oklahoma. The rumor circulated that if the fee increase did not pass, many rural examinations would be closed and prospective drivers from all across the state would be forced to drive many miles and wait in very long lines in order to receive their driver's licenses.

A television station did a report in which they interviewed a driver who indicated that compared to paying the high price of fuel in order to commute to the examination station, surely it would be better to just pay a few dollars more for his driver's license. With a little media attention, the proponents of higher fees appeared set to convince the public that the fee increase was in fact a good deal for people.

I have observed that this is one of the oldest tricks in the book for politicians who want to tax us more. Instead of focusing the debate on funding necessary government services with existing money, those who want higher fees make voters choose between terminating the necessary service or raising taxes/fees.

But in all their efforts to raise our driver's license fees, the proponents of bigger government made one small mistake. They failed to take into account the identity of the Representative who controlled the bill in the House of Representatives. As author of the House Bill in question, I had the power to remove the bill from consideration. I was happy to keep the bill from being considered until the fee increase was removed. And just days later, appropriations officials "found" another way to finance the drivers examination stations without an increase in taxes or fees.

Going to whatever ends necessary to convince people to pay more money is a trap that too many public officials quickly fall into. In today's world of high taxes and fees at all levels of government, I believe the first test for any public official seeking election should be if that official has met funding needs with existing resources, or if he/she has given in to the pressure to take more of the people's hard earned money.

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