Your Virtual Front Page for Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016

Haven’t given you one of these in awhile. And unfortunately, there’s a lot of news today:

  1. Two children shot at SC elementary school, suspect in custody (The State) — This is what I meant by “unfortunately.” Beyond horrible. A teacher was also taken to hospital.
  2. In a first for Obama, Congress overrides veto on 9/11 bill (WashPost) — Because, you know, what we really needed was for our relations with Saudi Arabia to get more tense. On the other hand, we’ve been tiptoeing around their stuff for a lot of years…
  3. Trump stumbles into Clinton’s trap by feuding with Latina beauty queen (WashPost) — The guy just can’t help himself. If there’s a mess of his making, he’ll step right into it, and jump up and down.
  4. Clinton gathers Republican endorsements (BBC) — One was from five-time senator from Virginia John Warner, who says “National Security for Dummies” is not an appropriate approach to the presidency. The other was from The Arizona Republic, marking the first time the paper has endorsed a Democrat for president since its founding in 1890. This joins a trend of longtime Republican-leaning papers endorsing her. As well they should. Maybe, with enough of these, people will start really understanding this is no normal election.
  5. SC lawmakers may rethink controversial property tax law (The State) — Remember when I wondered whether we might actually get comprehensive tax reform this time? I would be deeply impressed by lawmakers’ gumption if they took on this 10-year-old mistake, by which I mean Act 388.
  6. Natural born killers: humans predisposed to murder, study suggests (The Guardian) — Of course, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to back it up. But I’d be interested to see what Dave Grossman, author of On Killing, would say, since he writes of most humans having such a powerful inhibition against killing.

12 thoughts on “Your Virtual Front Page for Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016

  1. Doug Ross

    I’ll bite. “SC lawmakers may rethink controversial property tax law (The State) —”

    Setting the stage for tax increases, right? That’s the trick. You lower one tax (property tax) and raise another (sales tax). Then you raise the one you lowered later. Lexington County is doing something similar with the extra “penny” they added for schools. That runs out in two years but they want to keep it at the same level. These increase are never temporary. Then they also want another penny for roads but that has failed before and will fail again, especially after seeing how poorly Richland County did with their penny tax ripoff.

      1. Doug Ross

        Simplifies… ha ha. Good one! The entire system is a convoluted mess.

        The most simple way to handle property taxes would be on a per dwelling flat fee for homeowners. Why should the taxes on a home be different based on the value of the home? The taxes are meant to pay for services used by all equally. A neighborhood like mine with 100 homes has 100 different tax bills. Why? Stupidity.

        1. Mark Stewart

          Why do we have a graduated income tax or a percentage sales tax?

          Doug, your proposal is absurd on its face. What you are in effect saying is why don’t we simply have a head (or household to make it even more absurd) tax and forget any attempt at matching obligations with ability to pay.

          Black and white thinking in a color wheel world…

          1. Claus

            What is the world coming to, I’m half-agreeing with Mark and half-disagreeing with Doug??? I think a fairer way would be not on the value of the property but the amount of property. If you’re Ted Turner and have a half-billion acres you should be paying more than Joe Suburb who owns a 1/3 acre lot.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Fellas, that’s ridiculous. No one should have to pay the same taxes on an acre of worthless scrubland miles from any paved road as on an acre on the Battery in Charleston…

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                At the risk of starting one of the old arguments between Bud and Doug over whether fortunes are earned or mere luck, I will say what should be obvious, but seldom seems to be…

                A person who owns an acre on the Battery is deriving FAR more value from the surrounding society — and the schools, roads, etc., that taxes pay for — than a person who owns worthless scrubland. The existence of the high-value community around it is imbuing that riverside property with value, so the owner has a greater obligation to pay the cost of maintaining that community.

                Which of course has nothing to do with whether he worked his tail off to earn the money to buy that property or just inherited it. (Yet I sense such a discussion coming on, which is why I’m trying to head it off)…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      If only the State House worked even one-half the way Doug thinks it does! Those people LOVE to cut a tax, and they’d rather open a main vein than raise one.

      For that reason, it’s a minor miracle that they’re willing to reconsider this huge boondoggle they gave homeowners. If they ARE willing to.

      What they SHOULD do is repeal the special property tax break on owner-occupied homes, and take back the sales tax increase.

      But it would be astounding if they were willing to do that, for a couple of reasons.

      First, the HUGE break they gave homeowners — people don’t pay ANYTHING for school operations on their primary residences — is long ago forgotten. When I tell people that they’re paying nothing for that, I get a blank look — they’re not even aware of that. So this huge favor that was done for them 10 years ago is lost on them, a wasted gesture. But if it goes BACK to what it was, they will scream bloody murder, because they consider the current situation the norm. And most Republicans are terrified of hearing that scream.

      Second, if you are a Republican, which most of them are, there’s a special dynamic at play. In their districts, you’re a monster if you raise property taxes on decent, hardworking middle-class folk. But it’s not so bad to raise the sales tax, because that makes those OTHER people pay — the worthless, shiftless folk. (Notice that I’m not even MENTIONING race, but you know the score — these districts are drawn by race.)

      That’s why they did what they did in Act 388…

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      Well, first they lowered the property tax, promising equal increases in sales tax revenue. These increases did not eventuate. Tax revenues are well below pre-388 levels, and as The State so well illustrated, important stuff government ought to be doing by anyone who isn’t an anarchist’s lights, just isn’t getting done.

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