Letter: Meal tax would add insult to injury
In regards to the recent advertised Mathews County budget increase, supervisor Janine Burns summed it up rather appropriately, if not an understatement: “Nobody’s going to be thrilled.” Other comments by board members confirmed a consensus for the proposed tax increase. The board members are “anticipating the future in making the hard choices to move forward.”
Meanwhile, it is apparent that Mathews County is experiencing similar budget difficulties as many other city, state and federal agencies. These many increasing demands, coupled with a declining tax base, are causing revenue shortfalls throughout the country. As one example, the total unfunded pension liabilities add more than $2.5 trillion to America’s current debt. Even under the current accounting methods, all state and local governments are facing massive shortfalls.
Incomes within the private sector, which, after all, are the only source for government income, have stagnated for most income groups within recent years. So much so that currently about half of all households do not earn enough to pay federal income taxes. Meanwhile, according to the Tax Foundation, Americans are now paying more in taxes than on food, clothing and housing combined. Meanwhile, about 47 million Americans are on food stamps.
The current unemployment rate, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is 6.7 percent. Several other authoritative sources calculate the rate to be well in excess of 20 percent.
To add to the aforementioned statistics, in 2013 America experienced a dramatic increase in the number of its citizens renouncing their citizenship. While numerically insignificant when compared to the total population, this increase was prompted by yet another “necessary” tax—in this instance, the recently imposed Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.
If we view the necessity of servicing the debt, all debts, as an about-to-occur, burgeoning expense, should even a moderate interest rate increase come about, the servicing of that debt will become a primary expense. The national debt is expected to reach $20 trillion by the end of the current term of the Obama administration. Using just “simple math,” and a not immoderate interest rate of 5 percent, it is not difficult to “anticipate the future in making the hard choices to move forward” to prompt further “necessary” tax increases.
With a new proposition to consider—a meal tax—as a future source of revenue for Mathews County, I am reminded of an ancient symbol that might portend some serious aspects for the tourism and restaurant businesses in Mathews. The ancient symbol is that of Ouroboros, a snake eating its own tail. While this symbol is rarely seen in America, it could portend an immediate factor in the struggling restaurant and tourism industry in Mathews.
What’s to be done? With all of the “necessary” tax expenditures, I do not envy the supervisors their task of “anticipating the future in making the hard choices to move forward.” Having to consume one’s posterior is not a viable taxation policy.
“Nobody’s going to be thrilled” is a prophetic understatement, especially if a meal tax is enacted. Adding insult to injury is not a viable policy when considering one of our remaining private sector sources of revenue—our small but growing restaurant and tourism industry.
Port Haywood, Va.