Raise Your Taxes to Increase Your Financial Status!
A confluence of three disparate events has me thinking this morning. They are 1.) A bond issue to provide new communications systems for the 911 folks 2.) A re-finance of our home, and 3.) Bernie Sanders about to launch a bid for President of the United States.
The bond issue came up for Facebook discussion last week, and I was surprised that anyone opposed it. A good friend opined that he did not trust that the money would be used as stated, and that the tax increase was too much.
The tax increase would be $2 a month on the average house, and my friend stops at Starbucks for an expensive latte virtually 7 days a week. The bond issue amounts to less than 2% of his latte budget. There were several other comments, but that was the one that really impressed me. Keep in mind that I do not mean to criticize him, that the increase is on top of the real estate taxes you already pay, and what is termed an “average house” does not necessarily include yours.
At the same time we were providing a financial institution with about 200 pages regarding a refinancing of our home. We’ve done this before, several times, and it has always worked out to our advantage. The last one was four years ago when the interest rate on a 15 year fixed mortgage dipped below 4%, and I figured it would never sag lower. I was wrong. Now it is below 3.5%, and our real estate contact called me the same day the thought went through my mind.
With the refi, our monthly payment will increase $7, (or maybe $9 or $10 if the bond issue passes), we will pay off every debt we have, have a large chunk of cash left over, and still have about $200,000 in equity in our home. And no tax issues. This is not quite money for nothing and chicks for free, but as close as you’re likely to get in the real world.
How does such a thing happen? First of all, it’s a good idea to buy a house, almost any house, as soon as you can afford the payment. The second good idea is to not move. We’ve lived here for 38 years, having taken out a $47,500 mortgage we could barely afford the first time. The house will now appraise for (I’m guessing) $500,000 or so. Over time it has been refinanced to remodel itself (twice), to pay for some of a UW education, and for many other reasons. This is all due to a real estate market that has climbed steadily over the decades.
Why is that? Why to people want to move the Seattle suburbs, or anywhere else for that matter? People want nice weather, which if you live here you probably think we have. People who buy homes often have a family, and thus want good schools. Everybody wants, and assumes we have, that magic word we seldom talk about: infrastructure.
Any yet my neighbors (think large scale) in the past few decades have voted consistently to reduce or slash government spending which has affected, quite drastically, the schools and infrastructure quality that underpins the rising value of their residence. In essence, they are cutting the nose off their own financial face. If my largest asset is increasing in value by 10% a year, does it make sense to vote against services which cost a small fraction of that gain and are responsible for a lot of it?
Are taxes too high? You can argue that in either direction and select statistics to support your point of view, but the majority of reports seem to indicate that we pay less in taxes than at almost any time in the past 40 years, and that our personal tax bills lag behind most other 1st world countries. All of this while we’re spending billions of tax dollars. fighting this or that war somewhere.
Are taxes applied unfairly? Surely so, and that is a mess I will not take on here.
Back to government services.
In the years we’ve lived here I have called 911 probably 4 or 5 times, for health issues, suspected crime, or other issues.
In all cases, including the fire down the street, highly trained professionals responded immediately. One on occasion, I called 911 on the phone in the kitchen (remember those) and the office pulled up as I walked out the front door.
In the case of the fire, help arrived before I could call 911. I stood across the street and watched a fireman, all by himself, pull an inboard ski boat full of fuel, on its trailer and fully aflame, out of the garage so it could be doused by others.
My daughter was house-sitting at her grandparent’s house with a friend in her teen age years, and they thought some creepy person was trying to get in. She called us, and we told her to call 911 and that we were on the way. Grandmother’s house is a mile from ours, and the officers were there before we were. They searched the house completely, and the back yard, and stayed until they were sure the girls not only were OK but felt OK.
Quality and prompt emergency services (many other examples left out for brevity) require professionals, and they cost money.
It amazes me that the Koch brothers and their ilk have managed to convince so many people that their problems do not stem from the very rich taking advantage of them, but from the government that provides services. It’s really an amazing feat of sleight of hand marketing.
The solution they promulgate is to cut or slash all taxes, removing community services. Then people who voted for that and probably volunteered time to help the issue pass complain that government is not doing enough for them. Politicians try to create new revenue streams to take care of matters, and then the same people work against them again. It’s a vicious circle, and the super rich who can provide their own services sit back and laugh.
But only in private.
Of course government is not perfect. Nor are the police or the schools. I am not Pollyanna. But compared to what the super rich have done to Wall Street and politics, I know where I want to place my bets.
To fight back, next time a tax increase is floated, support it! You will gain back in the value of your real estate several times what you spend.
And now Bernie Sanders appears to be about to drop the bomb that he will run for President. Can he win? Assuredly not, but then nobody thought Barack Obama stood a chance, either. Has Obama’s presidency been a success? If you ponder what would have happened if the hand-picked stooges selected by the Koch brothers had won, I think definitely so. Sometimes slowing the bleeding is the best triage option available.
Like many others, I like to dream, both small dreams and big ones. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the majority of Americans figured out that the Koch brothers and others like them have been using them as tools for decades? If that happens, might they rise up and throw extreme do-nothing Tea Party advocates and others who have stripped our society of so much of our advantage in schools and infrastructure out of office?
Like I said, I like to dream.
Copyright 2015 David Preston