February 17, 2013

Another View: Tax breaks for Maine employers benefit Maine's workers, too

Societies that focus solely on fairness end up becoming oppressive tyrannies.


The Feb. 10 Maine Sunday Telegram featured a commentary by University of Southern Maine professor Susan Feiner titled "Beast of Burden."

Early paragraphs inform us that as one's income decreases the percentage of that income devoted to paying Maine's sales tax increases, the only surprise there being Ms. Feiner thinking that her readers didn't already know that.

Ms. Feiner next discusses tax "fairness," which for her hinges on the percentage of a household's income that goes to pay all of the state's taxes.

There are "plenty of ways" to make state taxes fairer, according to Ms. Feiner, but she shares only two: broaden the sales tax to tax financial services, and halve property tax incentives aimed at encouraging companies such as Nestle/Poland Spring and General Dynamics to locate in Maine.

That Maine must compete with other states (some without state income taxes) for such excellent employers gives Ms. Feiner no pause.

Characterizing her proposals as Robin-Hood-friendly (the Robin Hood who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor), Ms. Feiner ends her article with some real eye-openers about "more equal societies."

If Maine were to become more equal, its benefits evidently would be: Mainers living longer; being healthier mentally; kids doing better in school; fewer girls getting pregnant; all of us trusting each other more; less violence; our quality of life improving; and our state experiencing rapid economic growth.

Regrettably, no evidence is presented in support of these heart-warming predictions.

Absent that, one is prompted to ask: In the 20th century, on the strength of promises like these, when countries such as Russia and China created "equal societies" by pitting the poor against the rich, how did that work out?

Don Kopp is a resident of Buxton.

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