Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Sarah Palin's gift to Alaska
The recent teabagging parties and the inept parallels with the original Boston Tea Party, when the slogan was "No taxation without representation", made me think of Alaska and the fact that there are no personal state taxes, a case of representation without taxation?
The state of Alaska relies almost entirely on big oil taxes and federal money. The voting public is left out of it, always with the promise of never having to pay taxes to the state.
In the thirty years I lived in the UK, I paid income tax to the central government and a local tax based on property. These taxes provided me with services and also gave me and the rest of the taxpayers a voice. We could demand services because we were paying for them. We had a louder voice when holding elected officials accountable for their decisions about how they spent our money. Their responses were not always wonderful, but at least they had to listen.
In Alaska, because the revenue is not personalized, the services provided are seen as some kind of "gift" from the state. So the voting public have difficulty in finding their voices when they demand services. The underlying message from the state goes something like this: "You should be grateful for what we provide, you don't pay for any of it!"
That's part of the fallacy of Sarah Palin's "small government". No taxes, no services, no responsibility.
Small government creates low expectations. The state provides the bare minimum and the individual is expected to take responsibility for their own health, welfare, etc.
Going back to the earlier example about having a voice as a taxpayer, it seems that the only people with a voice in Alaska are the big oil companies.
They pay big bucks and expect something in return. They get infrastructure projects and the state fighting their battles in federal courts so they can continue to destroy the environment and wildlife in order to make larger profits. They are happy to pay tax!
I know that paying taxes goes against the grain, but perhaps the voting public in Alaska should consider if they are really so lucky not to pay taxes to the state...
"He who pays the piper calls the tune."