Monday, January 28, 2008

Amendment we DON'T need: Florida Amendment 1

This Tuesday, Florida will host a primary for Republicans (and Democrats, even though the DNC has barred delegates from the state because we're voting out of turn). There will also be a ballot for a state amendment, meant to reform our state's property tax laws and supposedly making things easier for homeowners.

The amendment, in short, sucks.

To quote from Jeff Webb's article I linked to:

For sure, Florida's tax system is a mess and it needs reform desperately. But the deceitful deal that is Amendment 1 doesn't do the job; it only perpetuates the inequities and gives people an undeserved sense of confidence in their lawmakers.

And make no mistake about it: That's exactly what the politicians who back Amendment 1 are seeking. They want to go on the campaign trail this year and crow about how they saved you money by cutting your taxes.

(Remember, these are the same people who still claim - amazingly, with straight faces - that they solved the homeowners insurance crisis.)

So what exactly would fix Florida's tax system?

For one thing, recognition by both voters and politicians that, dammit, things cost money. We look to government to fix our roads, hire the police, clean the water, rebuild our schools, aid us during and after disasters, and take care of a hundred other things. That means governments have to establish taxes in order to pay for all those things. That means taxes are, honestly, a necessary evil. The question becomes, "How do we keep taxes fair?"

The answer isn't "Cut taxes," which seems to be the only answer politicians are willing to provide. Nobody wants to be on record as saying we need to raise them, or keep them at certain levels, because then the anti-tax nuts will go on the warpath and everything sensible gets tossed overboard. As a result, the incoming revenue stream gets narrowed with those cuts, just as government services have to expand in order to meet more needs of a state that has outgrown its limits (overpopulation, which is stressing our schools, transportation, water supply, health care service, and everything else).

There was already a major budget cut hit this past year in 2007, a lot to do with the fact that Florida can no longer rely on sales taxes and property taxes to pay for everything the state needs to do. Home sales and new constructions are down due to a massive market downturn (which is another disaster story altogether). Home values are dropping, screwing up the math of property assessment and taxation. Instead of expanding services, the state government had to cut back, and also cut back funding to the counties and cities, hurting those groups' abilities to fund their services. (Disclosure: I work as a public librarian whose library system exists on state and county funding)

Instead of trying to wow the voters with a Super Homestead Exemption, which looks so pretty on paper but which can come back to bite us on the ass, the state of Florida needs to switch to a State Income Tax system. Yes, there's about 900 million people screaming about how Florida never needed a state-level income tax system to mess things up further. But here's the deal: relying on property and sales taxes ain't helping. Florida is one of the few states left that HASN'T gone to an income tax system, and maybe that's saying something that the other states know what they're doing.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Huckabee, please read this

Regarding statements Huckabee has made about his plans to amend the Constitution: HOLY BLEEP

Dear Mr. Huckabee, please do me the pleasure of reading these tidbits out aloud:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. This is known as the First Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights.

Article Six of the Constitution has this paragraph: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
James Madison: The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning RELIGION, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.
Please also read this, sir: the Massacre during St. Bartholomew's Day in France, in which the Protestants got screwed over simply because they butter their Jesus bread upside down.
Please also read this, sir: Cromwell's Calvinist conquest of Catholic Ireland, in which the Catholics got screwed over simply because they butter their Jesus bread rightside up. Please note sir, the overwhelming history of religious wars even among fellow Christians.
Please note, sir, how the Founding Fathers were descendants of those who fled Europe due to religious persecution, such as the Pilgrims of Plymouth, the Catholics who settled in Maryland, the Quakers who fled to Pennsylvania. Which was why they went out of their way to insist NO RELIGIOUS TEST be applied to government duties and oaths.

Please note sir, that your definition of what God is and what God wants, as a Baptist, is going to be different from even your fellow Christians, be they Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Calvinist, Reform, etc.

Please note Mr. Huckabee that your desire to rewrite the Constitution to reflect *your* point-of-view on God's Will, and it's only *your* will by the by, is going to scare the crap out of every other person who doesn't preach and pray to God the same way you do.

Sir, you may be preaching thinking that you want to convert this nation from its seemingly godless ways, but rest assured we Americans are more driven by our faith and our acceptance of God moreso than any other Western nation. There is no need to make the Secular Law of the Land to mirror the Law of Faith. If you do, if you persist, you're going to find more people bickering and arguing over the Law of Faith the same as they bicker and argue over the Secular Law. Bickering leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate... leads to suffering.

History has borne that out. Even Biblical history has shown that. Please note this. And please stop running for Secular office. You are clearly not meant for it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Review of Sabato's amendments book

Ezra Klein does a review of Sabato's A More Perfect Constitution on the Barnes & Noble site. I still am waiting for a copy of the book meself (curse ye, WorldCat! It takes months for the sucka to get a book from Alaska to Florida...).

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Searching for voters' rights groups

And I think I found a few:

I'll be shopping around, see which ones best fit my righteous angry mood about how screwed up the electoral system is.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Resolution

I hereby resolve to find and join an organization that is pushing for a nationwide one-day primary system. There has to be a voting rights activist group that is already pushing for it, or would be interested in pushing for it.

Oh, and also I'm gonna try to finish writing a bloody bleeping novel. For once. Sheesh. ;)