All Politics Is Local

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I tend to avoid discussing local politics in this space. Part of what makes the Personal Liberty Digest™ the world’s top-ranked Libertarian website is our “laser-like” focus on the subjects to which you, our patrons, can relate. The political goings-on in the city of which I am a resident, Savannah, Ga., are probably pretty inconsequential to most of you; and they’re certainly unlikely to rate a discussion on an internationally recognized site such as this.

However, on Tuesday, my fellow Savannahians and I ducked into the polls with our usual civic pride (about 19 percent of eligible voters took time away from holding down the area’s couches and/or holding up the area’s liquor stores to bother). Though the ballot questions dealt with a very local issue, the nature of the question provides what President Barack Obama might call a “teachable moment.”

Tuesday’s balloting in Savannah asked:

Shall a special one percent sales and use tax be imposed in Chatham County for a period of six years for the raising of an estimated amount of $370,000,000 for the purposes of funding certain capital outlay projects within Chatham County and the municipalities in Chatham County including storm-water and drainage; road, street, bridge, and transportation; water and sewer infrastructure; administrative, cultural, judicial, industrial and recreational facilities and improvements; park facilities and improvements; greenspace; public works and public safety equipment and facilities?

If imposition of the tax is approved by the voters, such vote shall also constitute approval of the issuance of general obligation debt of Chatham County in the principal amount not to exceed $30,000,000 for County projects.

The question related to the sixth extension of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), an added penny on the local sales tax — this time in order to fund a new arena in a dilapidated part of town. On the surface, it seemed like a reasonable request. However, the ballot omitted the fact that Savannah’s city council has spent the better part of the past decade proving that not only can it not be trusted to safeguard the public commonwealth, but it isn’t particularly concerned about that fact. In the past few years, the council has treated its constituents to a series of scandals and budgetary missteps that included: a racist conspiracy to rig the hiring of an unqualified city manager (who was subsequently forced out for cause), an under-the-table payment of $50,000 to a city council member and a general attempt to run the city at least as well as that urban paradise of Detroit. And the SPLOST revenues have been egregiously, even deliberately, misspent. Try the same question, as translated from the overly detailed ballot-speak:

May we impose on you to grant another extension for a tax which we have repeatedly proven we will misspend, mismanage and/or just plain waste; with the caveat that we will ostensibly use the latest revenue for projects we have failed to convince the public are even necessary, much less wise?

My beloved denizens of Personal Liberty Digest™, these are precisely the sort of lessons we must learn and the battles we must win. In truth, consumption taxes like Savannah’s SPLOST are the most egalitarian methods of taxation. Those who spend like a certain first lady at a five-star resort gift shop will pay more in sales taxes; those who spend like a General Electric factory worker who lost his livelihood when Obama’s crony Jeff Immelt outsourced his job to China will pay far less. But even the fairest method of tax collection loses validity when it is employed to fund an unfair goal, and that method loses even more so when the collectors are as trustworthy as a certain husband of a certain first lady.

The SPLOST ballot question that my neighbors and I faced on Tuesday serves as an excellent, albeit municipal, allegory for the larger choice that faces us all as Americans: If the government has repeatedly proven itself unworthy of our basic faith, is it wise to assume that it’s operating honestly this time?

By the way, the measure passed. (*Sigh*)

–Ben Crystal

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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  • hippybiker

    Ben. “Stupid is as stupid does.” And, you just can’t fix that. Welcome to the low information world.

  • Al Chemist

    A few cents here, a few cents there. A few dollars here, a few dollars there. A few million here, a few million there. A few billion here, a few billion there. Pretty soon, you’re talking about some real money! Seventeen trillion and counting.

    • Warrior

      I wonder if “plugs” has completed his accounting of stimulus yet? BTW, where is “plugs” these days? He seems to be either layin low or his teeth are out for a cleaning.

  • Deerinwater

    This is true Ben, politics is local and so can be rot without completely destroying the whole apple. ~ The best response should be a local response. ~ It’s only exposure to such transgressions that will incite any corrective response.

    Good luck with that, ~ it seems that you are in the right profession, needing only a local platform to hammer home these “transgressions” which more times then not are rooted in greed and conflict of interest.

    You need to be found squeaking clean to do this.

  • Alan

    And so it goes, corruption and fraud from the smallest governments right up to the federal government. The only difference is the dollar amount.

  • rbrooks

    (about 19 percent of eligible voters took time away from holding down
    the area’s couches and/or holding up the area’s liquor stores to
    bother).<<

    which are you ben. are you holding down a couch or holding up the liquor store.

    • Vis Fac

      Well we all know you are BOTH plus a FRAUD and a COWARD. Seeing as how you have yet to answer questions asked of you four weeks ago what makes you think you are qualified to spread your bovine manurer here?You continue to demonstrate a penchant for being inane and prove you are a cerebrally necrotic MORON.

      To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the wolf, hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will.

      You don’t have to be a Marine to make a difference the only requirement is being truly patriotic and the willingness to back it up!!!

      Libertas inaestimabilis res est
      Semper-Fi

      • rbrooks

        tell us again why you fled from your homeland.

        • Vis Fac

          Why Should I You haven’t answered any of my questions and why I left Germany is of no concern of yours. You don’t have the intellect or the character to take care of yourself let alone worry about why I left Germany the ability to comprehend what others say.
          So again I say to you The FRAUD and COWARD when are you going to answer my questions

          To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the wolf, hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will.

          You don’t have to be a Marine to make a difference the only requirement is being truly patriotic and the willingness to back it up!!!

          Libertas inaestimabilis res est
          Semper-Fi

          • rbrooks

            the possibility of a nazi or communist spy, plus the fact that you fled your last country like a little coward, is every americans concern.

          • Vis Fac

            Just as being a moron like you is a drain on society. Being an insignificant PI$$ANT like you is a drain on society for you merely take up space a more deserved person merits.

            We all know you are scum and why I bother with you is a poser so as you are too much a COWARD to answer my questions I will cede the throne of stupidity and depravity to you. You are the king of scum all hail the king of scum!!!.

            To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the wolf, hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will.

            You don’t have to be a Marine to make a difference the only requirement is being truly patriotic and the willingness to back it up!!!

            Libertas inaestimabilis res est
            Semper-Fi

          • rbrooks

            do you have fellow spys that fled germany with you. nazi’s were known to have homosexual tendencies.

          • Vis Fac

            Did someone just dirty his diaper here?

    • Nadzieja Batki

      You don’t have reading comprehension.

      • rbrooks

        well, i do not have your lack of reading comprehension.

  • speedle24

    I think it is wise to assume that the government “never” operates honestly until proven differently. Don’t feel bad about your Savannahgate corruptathon Ben. In Dallas we have been battling county corruption for years. We stick them in jail but like the Energizer Bunny, downtown keeps re-stocking crooks as predictably as NBC provides left wing talking heads. As soon as one goes down another takes its place.
    I wonder if there is some school around here somewhere that is offering a degree in race baiting and public graft, because the market seems to be flooded with aspiring career minded graduates.

    • JimH

      Come to Chicago. nuff said.

      • Warrior

        Ground Zero. LOL My congressional rep is none other than the “esteemed” booby rush. Isn’t gerrymandering just the cats meow?

        • JimH

          Just as fun as the cemetery vote.(the reason Quinn is Gov.)

          • Warrior

            and barry is kommander n chef. Eat your veggies!

          • JimH

            You are what you eat. Mama Barry wants us to be vegetables.

            My mind is slumbering, I’m cucumbering. I’m a garden of serenity.
            I’m a vegetable, a happy vegetable, I’m the pride of the powers you see.
            Don’t think. we’ll do that for you.

  • ted

    Unfortunately, most of the time these SPLOSTs are passed, especially when they are for the schools.