I’ve been seeing a lot of signs in front of the homes of Sedalia lately encouraging me to vote yes on Amendment 4 in the upcoming election. The signs bill it as the “Taxpayer Protection Amendment” made me a little weary because I automatically assumed that it was anything but that. “At-will employment” actually means “having the right to get fired for no reason at all” and “fiscal conservative” usually means that the initiatives and projects I support get infinite funding and the things I oppose get none.
We live in a country where there’s a “serious” presidential candidate who lies at a rate that dwarfs most other politicians in recorded American history and they haven’t yet lost all of their support. Sometimes I feel like I woke up in some sort of alternate dimension.
But Amendment 4 seems legitimate when it comes to attempting to protect the taxpayers – and the thing it is attempting to protect them from is the eternal threat of higher taxes. In the red parts of the country there is no bigger menace than the threat of higher taxes. For a large portion of the country there is no possible argument – more tax is more bad, no matter what argument you may have.
Who knows what the dastardly government would do with more tax money, anyhow? Why, they might spend it on roads, or schools, or infrastructure and who needs any of that? Of course, they might also spend it on lucrative government contracts for their private sector associates that may or may not actually benefit the general public. That seems to be a common course of action among”fiscal conservatives”.
Amendment 4, if passed, would change the Missouri constitution and prevent state and city governments from passing new taxes on services. We’re used to the status quo, which sees sales taxes applied to most products most of the time at the point of purchase – but most service-based transactions are exempt from sales tax. That’s just Missouri for you – states typically have a lot of power when it comes to deciding just how much to tax their residents.
And so we’ve created an interesting tax experiment right here in America: some states have no sales tax at all, some have no income tax, others have the full range of taxes. Sometimes a state government slashes taxes and suddenly finds itself unable to function as normal. (And usually that leads to economic breakdown and a mass exodus of people and businesses.) Feel free to keep beating that dead horse, Kansas, here in Missouri we’ll gladly accept your economic refugees.
Amendment 4 is probably going to pass – but only because at some point in the past we decided that service-based transactions should be governed by different tax laws than product-based transactions. But it seems to me that a sale is a sale no matter if you’re purchasing a good or a service and it seems to me that sales tax should be applied equally between them. Otherwise, it seems like the government is fostering a market that allows service-based business to have an artificial financial advantage over product-based businesses.
But on the other hand, I’m just like most other people when it comes to the opportunity to pay more taxes: I’m mostly against it. But nonetheless this seems like a waste of time – Missouri isn’t really in danger of imposing taxes on service-based transactions and in a state and world with much bigger fish to fry certain people seem to be overly concerned with solving problems that don’t yet and might not ever exist.
Besides, I don’t like the idea that we should ban certain future legislation instead of having a serious conversation about whether the potential changes are good or bad for the people. It’s ironic that the Missouri party of state’s rights is so concerned with telling smaller governments what legislation they are or are not allowed to pass.
And if we really did need some additional tax revenue, I hear there’s this relatively new initiative in Colorado that is seeing them haul in truckloads of money.
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.