Thursday, November 06, 2014

Meanwhile here in Massachusetts

I was pretty happy that Charlie Baker won the governor's race here in the Bay State.  Two ballot questions went the way I wanted: eliminating automatic gas tax increases and a "no" on a bottle tax.  But I really wanted Massachusetts voters to repeal the casino law that will place a temple of gambling in Springfield.

Alas, the rest of Massachusetts wanted some easy tax revenues.  The communities around Springfield were not so enthusiastic:
The anti-casino communities include:
A cluster of 17 contiguous towns in Hampshire and Franklin counties, stretching from New Salem in the east to Worthington in the west.
I suppose I should be a good libertarian and let people do what they want, but I just don't think the government should be in the business of casinos.  It creates all kind of perverse, entangling conflicts of interest where the state government will be actively supporting the fleecing of its citizens for a cut of the vig.


Nigel Tufnel said...

Nigel doesn't follow the opposition to an indexed tax.

Massachusetts' gas tax is a flat amount on a per gallon basis rather than a percentage. If it's not indexed you risk loss of revenue due to inflation. If they have to take a vote to change it to maintain a constant revenue you risk negative impacts on the budget due to the time lag.

It was disingenuously characterized as some kind of effort to 'force the politicians to actually vote to raise our taxes'.

Rather than having the gas tax be a stable element of the budget controlled by black and white economic information it will now become another political lever wielded by hacks.

siacd999 said...

Casinos aren't always a benefit to the community. Look at Atlantic City. The area where the casinos and tourism is ok, but everywhere else is ghetto public housing.
Can't testify to other areas of the country with legal gambling, like the Oklohoma Indian casinos or the riverboat gambling on the Mississippi. And Las Vegas is a different creature altogether, since that whole town is based around gambling.

Eric said...

Yeah, boo-hoo for State House politicians. If the gas tax was what Martha Coakley thought it was, I wouldn't worry about it.

I'm curious how you come to the words "disingenuously characterized."

Also: I'm shocked - shocked! - that politicians use popular positions for political reasons.

Nigel Tufnel said...

Oh, stop it.

I'll move past the requisite venom sprayed on your response and get to the issue.

It's disingenuous because the very real issues associated with not having a flat tax indexed (as detailed above) are ignored in favor of cynical pandering to people who don't understand the issue.

It is economically rational and fiscally prudent to index a flat tax. Otherwise you will get budget shortfalls. It's not a percentage tax based on dollars. If it were, it would absolutely require a vote by lawmakers to be changed.

You know that, Vike. Don't feed the beast of silliness.

Eric said...

Oh YOU stop it (slaps elbow playfully)

All of what you say about a flat tax which is indexed (thus becoming an indexed tax) is true. It's also true that without indexing it would force lawmakers to vote to raise taxes if they want revenue.

You say so yourself and yet this position is somehow "disingenuous."

Nigel Tufnel said...

Slap fight, eh? Have at you!

I'll try again. Gasoline prices fluctuate significantly, so the approach of taxing on a per gallon basis is used, since the use is more stable. It also encourages gas efficiency.

The downside of this approach and the efficacy of indexing for inflation to maintain fiscal stability is acknowledged above.

So explain the advantage of changing the existing system.

I stand by the charge of disengenuity. The downsides outweigh the upsides and the downsides are ignored by proponents. Therefore proponents are pandering to feelings based on ignorance rather than reason.

If you don't want the gas tax then advocate outright repeal.

Nigel Tufnel said...

Not so sure if I stand by the word 'disengenuity ', though. I better go look that up.

Nigel Tufnel said...

Sweet. Crushed it.