Fighting over the scraps

There’s an article in the Raleigh paper on proposed changes to allocation of the sales tax to be more weighted in terms of population instead of location. It highlights some of the common issues with urban/rural divides, especially when it comes to inequality, and explains the changes clearly, in detail, and with historical context. Go local papers!

I think it is really great that this proposal has started a conversation about the distribution of government resources – whether it should be equitable, how to make it equitable, what that would even look like.

But I thought it was kind of disingenuous to present this fight over sales tax allocation completely divorced from the larger tax collection and allocation picture. Poor people are paying a much higher proportion of their income in taxes in NC than the wealthy, and tax rates are so low that infrastructure needs and services aren’t being met. A lot of Democrats in my circles are crowing about hypocrisy – this is a Republican initiative to redistribute wealth from richer areas to poorer*. However, the sales tax is strongly regressive; you’re really just moving a bunch of poor people’s money around. The impact on wealthy people is indirect via potential changes to their municipal infrastructure. But with tax policies like these they shouldn’t have any trouble affording alternatives like private school and hovercars.

Focusing on this sales tax situation is like taking a box of cookies to your 3rd grade class, hiding almost all of them in your backpack, and then admonishing your friends to be fair when divvying up the remaining 4 (and crumbs).

If I were rich I’d think it was hilarious.

* I am somewhat sympathetic to this. I sincerely doubt this would be happening if the Republicans weren’t trying to shore up support in rural areas.