Bountiful’s RAP (Recreation, Arts, and Parks) Tax is up for renewal in a few weeks. While it may be well intentioned, it represents a means for favored special interests groups and politicians to fund their pet projects at the expense of their neighbors and fellow citizens. Long ago, Frederic Bastiat warned about the practice of drifting from core government functions and dubbed it “legal plunder“. More recently, economist Milton Friedman revealed why these special interests often prevail.
Ironically, often these special interest tax campaigns are bankrolled and pursued by those who can most afford them and the projects they fund. Those most able to pay and benefit distribute the otherwise voluntary burden to those least able to do so. They also tend to argue that their burden is a light burden and attempt to shame those opposed as unrefined and miserly. Their tax may be small but it is heaped upon all the other taxes and fees placed upon us. Make no mistake – it adds to families’ financial burdens to fund very non-critical functions.
Then there are the pitfalls of these funding pools. It introduces government inefficiencies and pressure from groups or politicians to aggrandize projects into legacy projects. Costs balloon and the project becomes orders of magnitude larger: something we recently witnessed in Bountiful (this time it had a happy ending…for now). Not to mention the pitfalls of the types of events that are funded. Just to add insult to injury, the politicians and benefiting groups hold a groundbreaking, thank themselves for the hard work….and totally neglect taxpayers.
I guess all I can say is that I have a lot of hobbies and interests I enjoy participating in. I take the time and money to pay for those and don’t demand that my wealthy neighbor, the widow on a fixed income, or a struggling young family pay for or subsidize my fun. I am fortunate and grateful that I get to voluntarily donate and assist others. I would just ask that the same courtesy be granted to me and to those least able to pay.
Please vote no on the RAP Tax (“Proposition 6”) and let folks willingly fund the projects they value rather than forcing others to pay for them. A community that voluntarily helps one and other is a true community.