I have had a lot of experience in the political arena, and I'm well-read and educated. However, I had absolutely no idea that our Federal government's economic vision was predicated on continual growth (an unrealistic vision at best). And it became another, though lesser, surprise when I found out that Florida's government did, as well.
Florida at one time was an absolutely beautiful state, untouched by many. Over the years in certain areas it has become polluted and overcrowded, with too much unchecked growth raping the land, and dwindling water supplies. The Tampa Bay area now lives under constant watering restrictions when at one time there was always enough for all. We steal water from our northern cousins, who groan and complain but cave to the greater interest.
We environmentalists were unheard, as the almighty dollar drove us forward.
Condos and entire "communities" * were built on the shores, blocking and destroying beach views and even preventing access to beaches that once belonged to us all. We natives began to be charged for access to our own beach in Clearwater, when and if we were ever lucky enough to find parking.
Homes were also built on former farmland and protected wildlife areas which magically became unprotected. Schools were built to house the children of these new interlopers, shopping centers and restaurants were built to cater to them, and the government cheered because there was more money to spend.
Now schools are closing, property values are dropping (thankfully) which alleviates the taxation we natives have been subjected to (as the newbies have driven the costs up). And the government has discovered, much to it's unfettered surprise, that growth in Florida has finally abated.
This is a mixed blessing: I am tempted to jump up and cheer, because this may finally cause the government to re-evaluate its policies toward growth and the environment. But we know that government is generally ineffective and, like the worst doctors, they always treat the symptoms - never the disease.
In the meantime, although we have increasing elbow room, the roads aren't as crowded, and the remaining 2% of the undeveloped land in this area can breathe a (temporary) sigh of relief, the fact remains that we are also seeing job losses and less money, overall, in our economy.
This means that we natives, once elbowed out and ignored, will end up being the ones stuck with the tab as the encroachers move on to new territory to conquer.
The Floridian government must both cut back spending and find some way to increase revenues. There aren't many ways to do that. Taxes and the Florida Lottery are, in fact, the only way.
The Terrifying Tax would be a State Income Tax, followed by increased property taxes dished out to a populace that is barely able to scrape up enough to pay exorbitant yearly bills. Currently, taxes in the Tampa Bay area seem to be averaging around $2,000 a year for a standard, older and smaller home. I have no idea what the Mega Houses are being taxed at, but it must be significantly higher.
And yet for the Floridian government to keep Florida appealing, they will hesitate to raise property taxes in a state where homes are being abandoned left and right. And a State Income Tax would make people think twice before they moved here to become part of the blood-rich system that the parasitic government feeds upon.
So the current thought is to turn to a "Sin Tax". I love the idea, but there is much wrong with it.
Sin Taxes traditionally are taxes levied upon "sinful" items such as alcohol, cigarettes, and gambling.
A tax on cigarettes would be a welcome thing to me, as I'm a chronic asthmatic who is forced to smoke at the hands of total strangers. There are times I'll walk out of a store and be immediately subjected to a cloud of smoke, as the store employees are standing around outside, taking that 'necessary' cigarette break. Walking out of a store and into an asthma attack is something that no one should be subjected to. A cigarette tax would lessen the chances, as it would drive down consumption.
Let me restate that: It would drive down consumption.
You see, Sin Taxes only work if they're applied to lifestyle choices that remain constant. But in tough economic times, people cut back on their indulgences. Additional taxes may only encourage them to cut back further, thus bringing in no additional revenue to the state coffers.
On the other hand, Florida's 34-cent-per-pack cigarette tax was the fifth lowest in the nation last year, according to the Washington-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, and hasn't been raised since 1990. It certainly wouldn't hurt to consider this tax before we consider others.
However, thanks to the government's unrealistic expectations, we now must consider something. I only hope that it will be something which will not punish those of us who never asked for all of this.
*Communities are all the rage here, both gated and ungated. What are they? A builder buys up a chunk of land and squeezes as many oversized houses into that area as possible. This results in homes that are sometimes only feet apart, with windows open to each other so that your neighbors' business becomes your own overnight.