Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wisdom From The Mayor Of Palos Verdes

Palos Verdes is a lushly landscaped little scenic community along the California coast. At City Council Meeting after City Council Meeting, its citizens demand services, each of which cost money.

"We need more parkland," one woman demanded at a recent meeting. "We need to invest more money in our schools," cried out another woman. "We want more fire protection," insisted one man, while another man agreed with him and added, "We should hire more police officers to keep us safe."

"Each of you is right," replied the Mayor. "These are wonderful things and we should do them." And everyone in the crowded room burst into cheers.

When the cheering finally died down the Mayor asked, "Now how shall we pay for them?" The room fell silent.

Then one man stood up and said, "We should tax the high income people who live here." "Yeah, I support that," a woman added. "They have plenty of money. We can add a tax to all big homes."

The room quickly filled with cheers, with a few notable exceptions. One of those exceptions, a very senior citizen stood up and said, "This is not fair. I worked hard all my life and sacrificed vacations and other pleasures so I could save my money to build the home I have now."

Rising to her feet a woman replied, "That old man and others like him aside, there are many more like us who aren't rich but demand these services. We will just outvote them and then tax them."

The Mayor of Palos Verdes had listened patiently and now he spoke. "What is your name sir," he asked the very senior citizen who had spoken. "Carl," the man replied.

"Carl is right, the Mayor said. "To tax him extra for services many of you want is not fair. Instead I propose we do as follows: We will have a small special tax on each household in our city for each service you want.

"For example, to pay for additional police would cost each household $200 a year. To pay for more parkland would cost each household $300 a year. More money for schools would cost each household $500 a year.

"What this will cause us to do is set our priorities," the Mayor continued. "If we want all of the services discussed here tonight, than we will establish a special household tax for each of them. If that is too expensive we will select our highest priorities and tax ourselves only for them.

"This is how most of us run our own households, selecting only what we can afford, not choosing everything we might want and demanding someone else pay for them.

"And where there is individual hardship, such as with our very senior citizens living on small fixed incomes, we will establish a board to hear their cases and give them waivers from the new taxes where it is appropriate.

Once everyone realized they would have to share in the expense for the additional services they had earlier demanded, more rational thinking prevailed and in the end, only the tax for additional police was put into place.

"The U.S. Government can print money, " said the Mayor, "And for now the people and the politicians can have everything they want. But in Palos Verdes we had some hard choices to make and we made them."

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