Thursday, May 21, 2009

Al Allain If we tax companies too much, like we have been, they will conitinue to leave our state, taking with them their good-paying jobs, taxes and donations. We sometimes forget that when industry leaves, it’s not just the employees who lose their jobs. The loss is also felt by the many outside support companies— landscapers, insurance companies, plumbers, supermarkets, hardware stores, gas stations, etc. When our good wages go, that only means that we will have to work that many more hours, often at lower-paying jobs, to make the same money we made before those companies left. Our residential property taxes will then go up be¬cause these businesses, which bear a higher disproportional amount of the burden, are gone. Meanwhile, the youngest and the brightest of our population continue to flee Massachusetts along with those good jobs and good wages. In the past two years, the only state in the Union to lose population was Massachusetts. There are fewer and fewer companies and fewer and fewer people left to pay higher and higher government expenses. In previous generations, people and companies kept coming to our state and we were able to keep up with the cost of government. Then the influx of companies and people stopped and the result was that government had to tax the heck out of existing companies and homeowners. The result of this excessive taxation is what we have now: Companies and people leaving. Now who do we tax and how much do we tax them? Forbes Magazine named Essex County the costliest place in America in which to live and work There are CEOs sitting in boardrooms all over the world trying to pick a place to start up or expand their companies: “Let’s see. We could go to Essex County, Massachusetts, where we can pay higher taxes, higher utility bills, higher health insurance, etc., and where our employees won’t be able to afford housing, car insurance, property taxes, etc.” I don’t think so. Our ability to make the wages needed to live and pay the taxes no longer exists. Business isn’t coming back and new businesses aren’t coming at all. We have nothing to offer them. Optimism is good, but now we have to be realists. Once this downward spiral got started, I don’t believe anything can stop it. The problem with our system is that government is in no way, shape, or form connected to the economy. People in the private sector lose their jobs, get laid off, have benefits cut or eliminated and lose their pensions, but they still have to pay their taxes. In the real world, there are no guarantees. Cash-starved local government officials most likely will jump at the new governor’s plan to allow cities and towns the ability to tax hotels and restaurants more. People, they will not use this money to reduce our property tax. It is just another tax on top of existing taxes. The next step, I believe, is a city and town income tax. Before you start laughing and dismiss this as preposterous, study our tax and fee history. There isn’t much left that is not being taxed. Someday sit down and list the taxes and fees that you pay — not counting property tax. You will be amazed and hope¬fully, outraged. All the financial problems we have now wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t forced people and industry out in the first place. After all is said and done, as I stated in the beginning of my article, our situation is not sustainable. Even if we vote for overrides this does not change the fact that there is no more money. Try to imagine where we would be if Barbara Anderson hadn’t started Proposition 2 1/2 and if we, the voters, hadn’t voted it in. King George III wouldn’t stop his excessive taxation either. What are we going to do to stop the Redcoats this time? Al Allain is a Danvers residents who runs his own business. He is a former member of the Salem News’ reader advisory board.

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