Utah’s Ignorant Ivory Tower Bubble Class And A French Warning

The Utah League of Cities and Towns (ULCT) recently reported on a meeting that included a discussion with the Governor about the state legislature forcing cities to accommodate high density housing. The ULCT understood Governor Herbert was supportive of the developers position and expected he ULCT to go along with their decision. The ULCT was made aware that they will get no where with the Governor if they bad mouth developers.

To sum: residents will just have to deal with it. I expect nothing less from Governor “Available Jones” and his Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce cohorts.

I guess you can add this to the list of other crap our local ignorant ‘elites’ have dumped on us because they know what’s best for the little people. Many are the same people who blather on about federalism, states’ rights, and that decisions should be made locally. Funny how they forget all about it in their own backyard. No, now centralized planning is A-OK. Besides, they live in areas that won’t have to deal with the congested housing fallout.

Of course, the ULCT isn’t going to fight or do anything about it. Regrettably, the ULCT is intimidated by the Governor and Legislature and won’t stand up for the interests of their citizens who have reservations about high density housing. They generally serve the same interests as the Governor and have shown, time and again, that they prefer to lobby for tax increases and certainly don’t represent taxpayers nor residents. Unfortunately, taxpayers pay almost $2 million/year to fund the useless ULCT to…lobby for more tax increases.

I’m left to wonder where the breaking point will be as the not-so-smart bubble dwelling ‘elites’ keep coming up with burdensome schemes that fail and then pop out their next great idea will fix the last (while neglecting to disclose why a ‘fix’ is needed, of course).

If you look around, you realize that virtually the same people run and/or are on the boards of all the major policy-oriented organizations (e.g. the Utah Foundation) that Gov. Herbert and the media refer to as the “authority” for what the state needs. It’s a monolithic echo chamber where the same elites with virtually the same background group-think their way into new policy recommendations. Recommendations which don’t substantially affect them but do adversely impact the rest of us and they simply don’t realize it in their bubble.

These are the folks that still can’t grasp why Trump is in office and think he simply came out of nowhere. A fluke. A total shock and surprise that they still can’t and won’t accept. They are cloistered in their board meetings, think tanks, and summits and simply miss what is going on the ground outside their clique. If you want to get a feel for the late stage of this process, look at what is going on in France right now with the “Gilet Jaunes”:

France: Understanding the Gilets Jaunes Uprising.

Normally, I include a quote from a linked article. Not this time – read the whole thing (it’s not long) and pay close attention to the “Arrogance & Ignorance : A Toxic Mix” and “Those Who Forget History, Are Condemned to Repeat It” sections. It is a warning I hope they notice and one we should apply to our own lives.

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Utah’s Uber Rich Slapping More Burdens On The Great Unwashed

Dave Bateman sums it up well.

Gail Miller received a $22.7M tax credit for her Vivint Arena renovation, much of which would have gone to fund Utah schools. She then took $250K of that to fund the “Our Schools Now” ballot initiative, transferring the cost of school funding to the poorest among us through a gasoline tax. Utah’s uber rich are using ballot initiatives to increase their wealth at the expense of Utah citizens

 

After the OurSchoolsNow bomb, and the coming Medicaid expansion fiasco Bateman mentions, now the Salt Lake Chamber (of crony capitalists) has their point man Governor Gary “Available Jones” Herbert out touting that he needs to raise the food tax: Gov. Herbert’s office prepares plan to expand sales tax and increase the tax on food:

Gov. Gary Herbert’s office is readying a proposal to expand Utah’s sales tax — potentially to increase the rate on food purchases and to tap into a ballooning service economy.

I’ll let you figure out who is proportionally hardest hit by this tax increase.

Same Gamble: Our Schools Now Proposition 1 And The Mega Millions Lottery

Tomorrow we vote on Questions 1 promote by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce’s front group “Our Schools Now”. The initiative will raise the fuel tax which will ripple through the economy (e.g. fuel costs impact the cost of food at the grocery store).

Besides being a bad idea to begin with, especially with the fiscal shell game the Chamber and their political pals plan to use, take a read of this article:

The Mega Millions jackpot (and why you are not being told the truth)

In the middle of the 20th century, when lotteries first started in the U.S., they were sold to states as a way to benefit the American public by providing additional funding for education.

This means that as the jackpots get bigger and people spend more money on lotteries – $223 per year by the average American, in fact – there should be more money in state budgets to spend on education.

But that isn’t happening.

Most state legislatures haven’t been using the lottery money for additional education funding. Instead, they’re using it to fund the basic education budget, and using the money that would normally fund education on other things altogether. As a result, public schools rarely get a budget boost.

With the Chamber’s involvement, I would expect the same here but rather than using lottery money for their shell game, they’ll use the gas tax to fund their other pet projects.

Really, it will be a double shell game: The tax is already a shell game as they use the gas tax money to fund other stuff so they free up money for education but I’m counting on them eventually turning around and using the freed up money for their pet projects instead of education.

Again, please look at my prior post on Question 1 and the prior political game with education money lead to this situation. Don’t fall for the shell game. Like the lottery, it’s a losing gamble but worse – this time you’re gambling with someone else’s money under government force.

Finally, an acquaintance passed an email on to me that also hits the issue:

Please see the attached link of the legislature when they were in the process of passing the “non-binding questions 1” that is on the ballot.

It shows how many of the legislators hold us, the tax paying voters.

http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=22914&meta_id=846895

Please consider how wise it would be to vote for a lifelong gas tax that cannot go directly to schools, it must be gerrymandered to go to education. Future legislatures cannot be held to switch funds around and every legislator I have talked to say it will only be for 1 or 2 years, but we will pay the tax increase for our lifetimes.

Please use wisdom in voting as we all have to live with the consequences.

The same advice should be applied regarding Proposition 3 (Obamacare-lite Medicaid expansion). Proposition 4 should also be opposed (I have no interest in unelected bureaucrats drawing up/manipulating election lines, it’s ripe for corruption; people doing this should be directly responsible to voters).

Illegal Immigration, Govt Mission Creep Claim New Victim: Utah County Law Enforcement

This report is really a two pronged argument against illegal immigration and government creeping outside core functions. Here’s the headline from the Daily Herald:

Utah County Sheriff resigns during commission meeting over funding shortfalls

So what caused the funding shortfall? Read down to the 3rd paragraph:

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office is short on funds by about $800,000 to $1 million, Tracy told Commissioners Ivie and Bill Lee during Tuesday’s commission meeting. Commissioner Greg Graves was not in attendance. That shortage is due, in part, to large medical needs by one patient that Tracy said he couldn’t discuss because of medical privacy laws..

But keep reading…all the way buried in the 15th paragraph:

Ivie said the person whose medical bills had caused the crisis is in the country illegally, and the county is also looking into finding funding from federal partners.

The county clearly needs to address funding shortfalls. Sticking to core government functions would be a start (forget the rec centers, art stuff, among other hobbies). An illegal alien tipping the balance is simply unacceptable. Either way, the Sheriff had enough of the fiscal mess and quit.

This brought to you by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and other associated open-border lobbying groups and special interests demanding government fund their business/hobbies.

Growing Big Government And The Welfare State, Utah Edition: Ballot Question 1 and 3

The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce loves pushing government intervention and tax schemes, especially if they can benefit by pushing their costs and taxes onto you. This continues.

The chamber started a front group to push the “Our Schools Now” initiative which will raise gas taxes a whopping 18%. The chamber keeps using some tiny increase but it’s woefully deceptive ‘math’ (ironic given this is purportedly for education). Besides the bunk claim, the initiative will essentially muddy the waters on transportation funding as heretofore, the gas tax was reserved for transportation. Basically it will be placing the camel’s nose in the tent.

Worst of all, it will impact family budgets. Unlike a sales or income tax, this is a regressive tax. Families need fuel to get to work, take kids to school, and run basic errands. This will hit mid-to-low income families disproportionately to higher income levels.

Not to mention, this will put a drag on small businesses and the local economy as a whole (the Salt Lake Chamber represents big business, political elite interests, not mom & pops). There’s a reason high fuel/energy costs are always a concern and why people scream when gas pump bills jump – now they want you to give them carte blanche to jump prices.

Finally, as the Libertas Institute points out (read the report), current education funding issues are a consequence of Lane Beatty and his economic elites’ policies foisted on us in the late 90s. There are far better solutions to this than harming families and the Utah economy. Ironically, Lane Beattie is sponsoring the OurSchoolsNow charge for this tax increase…the same guy and group who messed things up totally has the fix now. Sure he does.

On to the next part of the shifting Utah to a welfare state: Medicaid expansion.

Do we really want Obamacare-lite at a local level that caused all sorts of problems in other localities that have expanded Medicaid? The expansion will increase taxes and will cost money resulting in additional raised taxes as cost overruns are realized and just create more drag on family budgets along with an expanded government role in personal health issues. No thanks, I’ll take care of that myself.

Other states that expanded Medicaid have seen cost overruns among other budgeting issues and have found worse health outcomes. Again, Libertas has a good write-up on this worth reading: Common Sense Healthcare Solutions Need More Than Band-Aids.

This should be an absolute nonstarter but people often have trouble turning down “free” government cheese, especially if they aren’t informed. Plus, I understand the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce supports this too but don’t have time to confirm/link to such (I recall they have in the past as it pushes business healthcare costs onto taxpayers).

As the adage goes (for both ballot initiatives):

Government: If you think the problems we create are bad, just wait until you see our solutions.

Bountiful Raises Property Taxes While Higginson Spouts Low Tax Sophistry

Just a quick update that on Tuesday, the Bountiful City Council unanimously voted to raise the property tax.

I want to note first, that the Police Chief deserves credit for fiscal responsibility and respect of tax money. While facing labor issues (lack of pay, staffing shortfalls etc), he made hard decisions and slashed various budgets and programs to maintain the core mission. Some of the things he had to cut probably didn’t help city security (note: that’s my opinion, he didn’t say that).

He’s a contrast to the Bountiful tax-and-spend city council. While he was prioritizing and struggling to keep a fundamental role of government going, the city councils and mayors (current and prior) were blowing money on unnecessary pet projects and special interest butt kissing. I have a partial summary of their ‘priorities’ which didn’t include properly funding the police department in my prior post on this tax increase. But, hey, their track record on prioritizing funding for core government functions kinda sucks.

Apparently during the meeting, Councilman Richard Higginson spouted the comical spin that Bountiful is the second lowest taxes city of Davis County cities. It’s bunk. He’s full of crap.

I won’t rehash it; the city hides the real tax rate in their power rate/fee manipulation (click the prior tax increase link for details – they’re in that post). Once accounted for, you can compare apples to apples on tax rates and Bountiful is NOT the second lowest. Period.

Lastly, I am disappointed in Kendalyn Harris. She’s touted as the ‘conservative’ voice on the council. Yet nary a peep comes out of her on these issues and she’s steamrolled into voting for the dumb Main Street Plaza. That didn’t change here. She didn’t call out Higginson for his drivel, didn’t call for following the chief’s example and slashing wasteful city programs (or having users pay for them) and just voted for the increase.

Oh, and for the record, we should again thank Representative Ray Ward (who city council members endorsed, naturally) for supporting the bill that forced part of this tax increase.

Official: The Utah Tax-And-Spend Legislature Raised Your Taxes (Again), Will Use Legal Plunder For Political Cronies

On Wednesday, the Utah Legislature met for a special session to raise your taxes…again. Politicians say that because the State hasn’t collected sales tax from internet purchases, it has “lost” millions in revenue. First off, that isn’t the state’s/government’s money – that money belongs to citizens. It represents a portion of their labor. The government lost nothing to begin with.

You’ll notice that the state is funding things just fine and is not running a deficit. So rather than leaving us alone they’ve used this “government losing millions” to raise taxes and create a windfall for themselves to spend on their pet projects etc. This windfall comes on top of the property tax increase scheme they created earlier this year. In the case of the extra money this time, they’ve decided to dish out your money to their favored businesses (also known as crony capital).

To incentivize those companies, the state has allowed them to keep up to 18 percent of collected sales taxes. That incentive will end once the law requiring companies to collect taxes takes effect in January….However, about $55 million has already been earmarked for a tax break for manufacturers that lawmakers approved…

See, they know much better than you where you should spend your money and will even choose the businesses for you – how kind. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce is behind this especially given that Sen. Curt Bramble was the sponsor. The whole thing really embodies Bastiat’s principle of legal plunder.

On the local level, Representative Ray Ward voted for the increase (he loves raising taxes and spending people’s money for his own interests) and Senator Todd Weiler also voted for it. I have no idea why Ray Ward purports to be conservative, he’s not. At very best, he’s a very liberal republican but he should just be honest and run as a Democrat.

Then again, per KUTV’s article, maybe even some Democrats might have a problem with which cronies Ward wants to fund:

“When do we say enough to manufacturers, enough to EnergySolutions, enough to private little tax cut deals to people?” said Sen. Jim Dabakis, a Democrat.

The tax administration requirements will also hit small businesses harder with serious overhead that many have noted will likely harm them and favor big business as they can easily afford the overhead (lower per unit cost):

The requirement to collect sales tax will apply to companies that do at least 200 sales or $100,000 worth of sales in Utah in a year.

Essentially, they’ll provide competitive advantage to big businesses (who afford lobbyists, and entrenched political power players, like the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce). So government will pick winners and losers.

On the up side, the legislature was apparently shamed into addressing the income tax increase they imposed on middle class families (they knew about it during the general session and ran it anyway). Do note that I’ve heard it was only a partial adjustment so some will still see an increase.