Monday, March 4, 2013

Joseph O. Patton: Loaves and fishes… or bullets?

  Alabama should certainly be ashamed. We operate under one of the most regressive, unfair and debilitating tax systems in this nation. Yet invariably our fellow citizens of the conservative persuasion inexplicably brag about it… often in the face of those who suffer most from this codified curse.

  Repeatedly Rep. John Knight (D-Montgomery) has led the charge to make a dent in the suffering by introducing legislation to repeal our state’s oppressive sales tax on groceries, yet it has always failed, often at the hands of lawmakers who always crow about what “righteous and God-fearing” people they are and how the Bible guides their actions.

  According to the most recent figures, 19 percent of Alabamians are living in poverty, which is nearly a fifth of the state’s entire population (U.S. Census Bureau). Nearly a third (28 %) of Alabama children are living in poverty (U.S. Census Bureau). Alabama consistently ranks in the top 10 states with the most pervasive levels of poverty.

  But to now add insult to injury and to epitomize Alabama conservatives’ morals, Rep. Wes Long (R-Guntersville) is proposing legislation that would eliminate the sales tax on ammunition. It’s the type of headline you’d think would only appear in The Onion. Loaves and fishes… or bullets? This is Alabama “morality” for ya!

  This misguided, immoral approach is reprehensible enough but:

-How can we afford further losses in revenue when our leaders take every opportunity to remind us that the state coffers are tapped out?

-How can we continue to stick it to struggling families who simply want to avoid starvation while giving ammunition-collectors a tax giveaway?

-What is moral or just about using state government to pad the pockets of ammunition manufacturers and retailers at everyone else’s expense? Isn’t that “redistribution of wealth” which self-professed conservatives relentlessly express such dramatic butthurt over?

-Since tax giveaways don’t occur in a vacuum, how will the resulting loss in revenue be replaced? Or what additional cuts to government services will have to be implemented due to the resulting lower revenues?

-Or to frame it as a simple question of equality, why should those purchasing ammunition receive preferential treatment?

  I would never be so self-righteous, arrogant or ignorant to profess that I know what Jesus would do in such a situation. And I would certainly never push bad public policy while hiding behind a Bible like an insufferable coward. I would, however, institute a Misguided Jackass Tax with a strict provision stating that Wes Long can pay for all of the resulting loss in revenue out of his own damn pocket.

  About the author: Joseph O. Patton is the editor-in-chief and founder of the Capital City Free Press. He is a former news editor for the Coosa County News, lead reporter for the Montgomery Independent and editor-in-chief of the AUMnibus, the student newspaper of Auburn-Montgomery. Patton is also the creator of and writer for the satirical news radio segment "Goat Hill Gossip," which previously aired on WAUD in Auburn, Alabama and has appeared on several Central Alabama radio programs as a political analyst.

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