The Apostle

Matthews' Bob Rucho spreads the (seemingly) Good News of deliverance from state income taxes
N.C. Senate

It’s getting a little easier now to make out the contours of the movement to do away with North Carolina’s income tax and replace the revenue with higher sales and use taxes on things like bowling, carpentry, pet grooming and groceries. Our very own N.C. Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, is out front and leading the charge:

“There are good taxes, there are bad taxes,” he says. “A good tax is a consumption-based tax. Any time you buy a good or service you help the economy. Also, you have a choice. You can say, ‘I’m not going to buy that product, I’m going to set (the money) aside.’”

But he says his plan is “not just about taxes.” Getting rid of income taxes, he says, would make the state more attractive to employers.

“Our goal,” he says, “is to have a competitive economy” …

With missionary zeal, Rucho has shared his slides with audiences around the state.

They suggest corporate and personal income taxes are volatile, fluctuating with the economy. But they still account for a growing share of North Carolina revenue.

Meanwhile, the share comprised of sales tax revenue has steadily declined as people spend more of their income on services not subject to the sales tax, such as health club memberships or lawn care services.

Well, yeah — that or they spent less because they had less to spend. As the Observer’s story points out, North Carolinians aren’t making as much as they did in the 1990s, but they’re making far less than they were just a few years ago; since 2007, median household income has dropped considerably, 9.4 percent (from $48,474 in 2008 to $43,916 in 2011, according to Census data).

The percentage of North Carolina families living below the poverty line rose from 10.6 in 2007 to 13.2 in 2011; in the same time, the percentage of North Carolinians living in poverty grew from 14.3 to 17.9. The point is, when your government relies solely on so-called “consumption-based” taxes, and people choose not to consume, then your government has nothing to work with and has to cut services to the bone.

Wait. You don’t suppose?… Here’s where this comes fromhere’s who’s behind it, and here’s why it’s junk.

The problem with “missionary zeal” on something as value-neutral as tax policy is that it leads you to absolutism, in the same way that Ayn Rand’s Objectivism (or Leninism, for that matter) dissolves once it’s exposed to the wind and rain of the Real Freakin’ World, which has ways of grinding absolutism into paste.

Sometimes it takes a while, though, especially when a well-funded, organized corporate and political infrastructure makes sure people like Bob Rucho are out touring the town halls with their points, Power and Talking, and spreading the gospel. Blessed are the job creators, for theirs is the sweet tax incentive package.

Categories: Poking the Hornet’s Nest