Tuesday, July 01, 2003

The Fifteen Immortals
Alexander Marriott July 1, 2003


The second special session of the Nevada State Legislature ended during the night of June 30th in failure, from the point of view of those who want nearly 1 billion dollars in new taxes over the next two years.

It was by the slimmest of margins as well, and would surely have passed had it not been for the constitutional amendment passed by the voters at large requiring a two thirds majority vote in both houses of the legislature for new taxes to be levied. Four Republicans in the legislature sided with the Democrats to impose the new tax package, meaning those favoring the taxes were just one vote short of winning. But for the fifteen remaining Republicans who held firm to their desire to revisit the budget to make all the cuts possible before new taxes would be considered, the taxes would have been passed.

Of course after it was over the defeated majority cried out that education was in peril due to the “tyranny of the minority” the members of which were merely bowing to “big business” and their irrational fears of not getting reelected. It is amazing how those who wish to impose more taxes are the high minded and principled ones, and their opponents are just bought off or pandering to voters. This line of fallacious reasoning cuts both ways though. Those favoring taxes are backed up by the casino industry, labor unions, the teachers union, and all those who wish to benefit from increased government welfare services and could just as easily be said to be pandering to their liberal constituents. If you deny principles to others based upon irrational arguments then you’re open to the same wrong arguments in return.

Kenny Guinn’s “Take It or Leave It” approach to the budget has caused this mess that has now involved the State Supreme Court. He perceived (wrongly) his reelection as a mandate to do whatever he wanted, even though he never once said in any of his dopey campaign adds that he wished to impose a billion dollar tax increase when reelected, instead focusing on his late nights in the office or his ability to instruct local merchants on where they should be sweeping as he walked by. Refusing to open the budget to debate and possible cuts only solidified his opponents, some of whom were perfectly willing to raise taxes to the tune of $700 million. And his insults thrown at those who would dare cross him, calling them irrelevant, certainly didn’t hasten any of them to any bargaining tables.

Of course those on the tax bandwagon are trying to turn the debate towards schools and away from welfare, pork spending, and waste in the government. It is the tax supporters that are using education as a political tool, the education budget could have been settled first and the other programs, the not so popular ones, such as paying grandparents to watch their grandchildren, could have been what was now being debated. Ah but that wouldn’t be good politicking.

Annoying little gnats like Jon Ralston, who wrote a whole book insulting Kenny Guinn and his rise to power (The Anointed One), now hails him like an exalted saint and casts fire and brimstone upon all those who would dare do anything other than acquiesce. Amazing how when someone does something he likes he lays down all his quibbles and moral condemnations and becomes his lap dog, writing column after column of the same poor reasoning and diatribe ad infinitum. Not once does Ralston address the valid philosophical opposition to higher taxes and bigger government, because he hasn’t the intellectual wherewithal to do so, but instead he insults anyone who would be so preposterous and naive to challenge the assertion that the budget is “cut to the bone.” Kenny Guinn doesn’t even buy this, his own argument, because if he thought there was such a budget problem why does he then propose massive, brand new, spending programs, even though, as he repeatedly claims, we can’t even pay for the ones we have?

Something that isn’t addressed either is the assumption on the part of Ralston, Guinn, Carlos Garcia, Carol Harter, and the rest is that this budget crisis is our fault, not the fault of the state government. It is my fault the state government cannot manage its budget, that it overextended itself, and didn’t anticipate any downturn in the economy. For this I should pay, in the form of higher taxes, for mistakes made by legislators.

Of course the legislators who want the taxes shift the blame to the Federal Government, which, they correctly note, imposes mandates and provides no money to pay for them. What they don’t say is that they are under no obligation to pay for these mandates; it says nowhere in the constitution that the Federal Government can make unconstitutional mandates on the states and expect them to be carried out. In fact, if the whole beef they have with these mandates is that they aren’t funded then they should refuse to enact them until they are funded or rescinded, otherwise the Federal Government merely gets the message that they can impose unlimited mandates upon the States which never stand up for themselves. The Federal Government will not dispatch an army to force compliance and would have no legal standing in court, assuming the Constitution was used as the guide to judge the case. Therefore, this whining about the Federal Government is unnecessary and entirely wrong.

The fact remains that without any attempt to debate or cut the budget any new taxes are unacceptable, especially to those who would end up paying them, those who drink, smoke, go to movies, operate businesses (thus employing people, possibly you), and drive as well as other taxation schemes. Each unnecessary item in the budget must be debated, whether you like welfare or not it is unnecessary in that the State would be able to go on without it, as opposed to the court system or the police. If every unnecessary item is cut and still there is a budget problem (highly improbable) then new taxation should be discussed. But to not even debate the budget is entirely irrational and unacceptable. Luckily, these Immortal Fifteen had enough sense, in varying degrees, to hold on and refuse new taxes without duly making sure the punitive actions they will impose on the people of this state are absolutely necessary. By the way the Tax Increasers are acting I would say they know that the items still in the budget are something less than critical or absolutely necessary to the operation of the State.