Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Disingenuous Sophistry

This article concerning population growth in the Athens area turned up in yesterday’s Banner-Herald.  According to the Census Bureau, the estimated 2010 population of Clarke County was 116,842.  This constitutes an increase of 15,353 (15.13%) from the tally of 101,489 back in 2000.

If I remember correctly from past population counts, those figures include UGA students who live here.  Predictably, local officials are more than happy to have such folks claim local residence – the more your population the more state and federal goodies to which you can lay claim.

But, insofar as I could get any specificity out of them, the supporters of the SPLOST 2011 ballot resolution counted those same residents as “visitors” to our fair burgh, because doing so allowed them to make the claim that half of the revenue generated by such taxes will be paid by folks who do not live here.

And so it goes.

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Impertinent Observations

I expected my column on the Clarke County School District’s proposed SPLOST 4 to be in last Sunday’s Banner-Herald.  Alas, it was not; perhaps it will appear this coming Sunday.

This Project Blue Heron concept strikes me as a horrible idea for a variety of reasons (and I do have several years of economic development experience, so my concerns are not merely me carping about something by virtue of my prejudices, which I freely admit by the way).  The concept strikes me as precisely what we do not need, specifically that of having even more property under the expensive and regulatory thumb of City Hall.  And anyone who believes the exceptionally rosy projections as to tax revenue and employment that will be generated by the development is a damned fool.

So now the push is on for yet another type of special purpose local option sales tax, on top of LOST, the Unified Government’s SPLOST, and the Clarke County School District’s SPLOST.  This time it is TSPLOST, ostensibly dedicated to regional transportation projects.  I hope that this gets voted down, but expect county governments to run out the full court press by predicting all manner of tragedy and mayhem should the ballot resolution fail.

The incessant lamentations about potential HOPE scholarship cutbacks are getting really tiresome.  Imagine the horrors of having to pay for some of your own education.  The HOPE issue presents a microcosm of government: start out with a reasonable idea that is limited in scope and expense (a scholarship program for high achieving students of limited means); then others exert pressure to get included in the gravy train (prompting politicians to expand the program to cover vastly more students, thereby buying votes from students and parents); unintended, though entirely predictable, consequences ensue (rampant grade inflation prompting an explosion of remedial classes in colleges and universities); the economy goes south so the bloated budget of the program must take a hit (much political posturing ensues); students and parents man the barricades so as to protect what its owed to them (needed reforms are substantially watered down).  That which started out as a scholarship program morphs into an entitlement program.  Like I said – a microcosm of government.

Perceptive readers will have noticed a theme, namely that of governments’ use of my money, running through all of the matters noted.

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