It wasn’t me, but what a good idea

Once the clan had wandered back, in our several vehicles (12 of us, 3 vehicles), from Memphis after the big wedding weekend was over, my eldest texted me to ask:

Know anything about that sign in my yard?

To which I replied, in all innocence:

No, not that I recall.

Note that I did not add, “… at this point in time,” because it would have sounded too Watergatish. She wrote back,

Someone stuck a sign in support of the penny sales tax in my yard. No idea who.

Well, I continue to have no memory of taking any action to lead to that eventuality.

But it was certainly a good idea! So, nice going to whomever. And I’m taking it as a good sign, so to speak, that the item was still up in her yard when I drove by and took the above picture at 3:25 PM today.

24 thoughts on “It wasn’t me, but what a good idea

  1. Kathryn "Blue" Fenner

    Weeks ago,I answered a “survey” after which they asked me if I would display such a sign, and I said yes. Lo and behold, one appeared a few days ago!

  2. Doug Ross

    Just a penny… that’s all. Just a penny on every dollar you spend for the rest of your life here in Richland County. Just a penny.

  3. Brad

    That’s right, Doug. I’m glad to see you get it.

    But it’s weird to me how wide the cognitive gap is. You say to me that we’ll be able to have a better bus system and address all these road needs, and we can pay for it as we go rather than indebting future generations, and we can do it for only one penny on each dollar of taxable spending, and I think, “What a bargain!”

    And folks like Doug go “Oh, no! A whole PENNY on every taxable dollar! We’re ruined!”

    I wonder what causes that gap…

  4. Barry

    We have a penny sales tax on the ballot here in Kershaw County as well.

    I plan on voting yes.

    It’s for 8 years though. After that it disappears by law.

    It’s for a new Elgin Library (which is badly needed), water system improvements to several communities, recreation improvements to several complexes (so they have tournaments and invite folks from other towns into Kershaw County) and some other improvements.

    Hope it passes. The studies show it will cost the average Kershaw County resident less than $6 a month.

  5. Doug Ross

    It’s a penny on top of what is already being collected and spent. It’s the easy solution – rather than making choices, they choose to attempt to force people to pay for the bus system on top of everything else.

    It’s easy to spend other people’s money when you can take it from them. A lot harder to prioritize and spend what you have.

  6. bud

    Brad and Kathryn, would you be willing to push for a repeal of the hospitality tax in exchange for this penny infrastructure tax? Seems like the least we can do to help the people out during these tough times.

  7. Jesse S.

    @Doug Ross

    Just curious, would you rather have a penny tax or see your property tax go up at least $800 (just pulling that figure out of the air; last assessment hurt a bit).

  8. Kathryn "Blue" Fenner

    @ Barry–
    C’mon–can’t the local “faith-based groups” build the library, water system, rec complexes?

    I think $6 a month is a deal!

    and Brad, how about “T’wasn’t I”?

  9. Doug Ross


    Neither. I’d prefer the local government started at zero each year and decided what the priorities were.

    Just curious, at what percent of your income would you feel you were not getting value for your tax dollars? My total tax burden is about 40%. I’d like it to be about 30%.

  10. Brad

    It’s just amazing to me how words don’t seem to mean the same thing to people who view the world differently.

    Doug actually writes, with reference to this REFERENDUM, “they choose to attempt to force people to pay…”

    No, Doug, that is demonstrably, obviously, objectively, patently, untrue.

    The voters are being ASKED whether they want to pay this. They’re being asked to volunteer. If they say no, they say no, and that’s it. If they say yes, then they have done so voluntarily, and in spite of a really low and deceptive, uncivil campaign to discredit it (have any of you heard those “anti-” radio spots? They give me the creeps, they pander so hard to voters’ worst impulses…).

    If my side loses, I’ll know that’s because of what the voters decide. But if your side loses, the same is true, and you DON’T get to go around saying they were FORCED to do it. Because words have meaning.

  11. Doug Ross

    Okay…but let’s try and be rational and agree that the pro-penny tax group is using whatever rhetorical means they have to try and make this into “just a penny”.

    They rely just as much on trite slogans, obfuscation of the facts, downplaying the aspects that might cause people to vote “no”, and questioning the morality of people who don’t vote for the tax (WHAT, you mean you DON’T want to pay for poor people to ride buses? You’re just a greedy person).

    It’s a campaign based on hoping the voters won’t ask for details and won’t ask the government to actually do the hard work of prioritizing what the county needs.

    As I said, it’s easier to just take another penny of every dollar than to try and work with what you have.

  12. Kathryn Jean Braun Fenner

    Look, Doug–“just a penny” is accurate (actually, US currency does not have pennies; it has cents.) Stupid ads are somewhat misleading when they say items are going for “only pennies on the dollar” may be true, but they suggest it’s only a few cents when it may be 99 cents on the dollar. This referendum is straight up the truth.

    Actually, although I support the referendum as the best politically possible option, I actually think we need to work on ensuring that every worker gets paid a truly livable wage so he/she can avoid payday lenders and get to work paying the true cost of whatever form of transportation they need to use. This would likely mean higher minimum wages, higher prices for goods and services, especially health care, higher gas taxes to pay for road maintenance and remediation for air pollution, and so on. The middle class’s ox would definitely be gored, so I’m not holding my breath.

  13. bud

    The voters are being ASKED whether they want to pay this. They’re being asked to volunteer. If they say no, they say no, and that’s it. If they say yes, then they have done so voluntarily …

    NOT SO! The people who vote NO STILL HAVE TO PAY. That’s not voluntary.

    I’m still waiting on an answer regarding the repeal of the hospitality tax. That’s a clear example of governmental abuse. I stridently oppose this new tax until the hospitality tax is repealed. PERIOD!

  14. Kathryn Jean Braun Fenner

    Uh, bud–it’s a democracy–We band together for the greater good of al of us and, subject to reservations of rights for the minority, the majority rules. You voluntarily avail yourself of the benefits of this society.

    The hospitality tax is a great way for all you who benefit from living near a city to have to pony up a bit, and for all those who take advantage of our police, fire, etc., but do not live here–just work and play here, to pay up. It’s quite voluntary. Sleep at home; pack a lunch.

  15. Doug Ross


    It is also true that the one cent increase represents an 11% increase in the sales tax. You won’t find the pro-tax crowd mentioning that, right? It’s all in how you word it.

  16. Fred

    A penny increase here, a penny increase there, a penny increase next week, a penny increase next month, etc… and pretty soon that’s about all that’s left to your paycheck, a penny. But as long as the empty buses still run in Columbia it’s for the best, or that’s what I’m being told.

  17. Mark Stewart

    I don’t know, Fred, I see an awful lot of people standing and waiting for buses all over town – people who for one reason or another NEED bus service.

    If the system were more robust, it might even be that people would use it by choice. It happens in lots of other places…

    And Doug, you know was well as I that the percentage increase in the sales tax is a red herring – it’s the total amount and what it offsets that really matter. I know people will say “but the sales tax comes out of MY pocket”. True, but so do all of the other, less obvious costs that drag on our earning potential. It’s not the tax burden itself that matters, but the larger ratio between income/wealth and the tax burden that is most important.

    I don’t live in Richland, but to me it seems clear that the ultimate individual economic cost to be born by everyone will be far less funding a bus system than the cost that will result from “penny-pinching” the system into oblivion would ultimately be to each taxpayer.

  18. Shannon aka Scout

    Not I, said the blogger??

    I am a fan of The Little Red Hen. She’d probably ride the bus, too, since most likely none of her friends would give her a ride. The Little Red Hen says vote yes!

  19. Barry

    @ Kathryn

    Good point Kathryn. I’m waiting on the local faith community to build a sewer line for the town. Maybe if Haley is elected that will happen. But I doubt it.

    If Ms. Haley has been in church lately, she realizes that collections in churches are down all across the nation. Our church right here in Columbia is rather large and we’ve taken a significant hit this year (salary freezes, cut in budget, cut in missions giving).

    I don’t see us building any schools or sewer plants anytime soon.

    – Yes, I will be glad to vote for the 1 cent increase in Kershaw County. I think it’s a huge bargain for what they have planned for the money.

  20. bud

    Kathryn, as I understand it the “hospitality” tax doesn’t pay for basic services like fire protection (which folks pay in their home county to protect their property there). Rather, it’s to promote the Famously Hot city of Columbia by funding boondoogles like the Township Auditorium fascade. Right now if I eat a meal at Henneseys 2% of my check goes to pay for junk like that. If I live in Lexington County and never use the Township then that part of my check is basically flushed down the toilet.

    If folks who propose these endless additions to our tax burden really have a serious program or project they want the public to support they need to at least make an attempt to find wasteful stuff that they’re willing to eliminate. Otherwise the taxpayers are unlikely to continue antying up. 10% tax on a meal is really getting way, way out of hand. Why is that so hard to understand?

  21. Doug Ross

    Returned home from Florida last night to find a mailing from the “Citizens For A Greater Midlands” group pushing the penny tax. And what is the slogan they put on the card?

    “The Penny Will Keep Our Kids Safe”

    It includes a bunch of non-verifiable statistics that border on ludicrous.

    “The average commute time will be 5 MPH faster.”

    “Nonresidents will pay 42% of the cost”

    “We will create 14,000 new jobs”.

    Here’s what I want. Every person on the “Citizens For A Greater Midlands” committee to sign a pledge stating they will be personally responsible for all three of those statements to become true if the tax is passed. And if all three do not happen within say two years, they will work to repeal the tax.

    What a bunch of b.s.

  22. Barry

    @ Doug

    I think it will create jobs here in the Columbia area. No doubt about that – mainly for road construction and related item – probably several thousand actually.

    The “keep our kids safe” statement is a way to catch the eyes of readers. It’s a gimmick for sure.


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