Exchange With A State Representative
It's Wednesday, November 3, and it is now appropriate to provide an update to this exchange. Feel free to jump ahead and read it now, or to really understand what it's like conversing with a Liberal Democrat, read the entire piece. Either way, it has a happy ending.
At the end of your recent mailing you suggested that if I had anything to share with you that I should send an e-mail. You mentioned that you take my feedback very seriously. I'm taking you up on your offer.
The survey and follow-up letter cause me to question your judgment. First of all, you received an overwhelming amount of feedback from those who thought that you would actually take their comments seriously. You didn't hear from me on your survey because I knew that you would take from the results that which already fit with your political philosophy.
Secondly, if you want to create jobs, do your part to get government out of the way of the private sector. I am part owner of a small business, and the quickest way for me to feel good about hiring again is to lower my tax burden. Are you aware of all of the taxes that I have to pay just to the state of Ohio? Never mind the federal taxes, you have no control over those. But you do have some say in the state taxes that I pay, and my state tax burden is overbearing and confiscatory. Reducing my tax burden will allow me to hire additional employees, which will allow them to earn a living, consume goods and services, and pay taxes. See how this works?
Further, using the phrase, "People are asking us to do whatever we can," is nothing short of frightening to me. Do not do whatever you can. Do nothing. Stay out of the way of the private sector. That will create jobs, and lots of them.
Thirdly, there is not as much support for Gov. Strickland's "plan to fix Ohio schools" as you think. Right now, it is the Senate that is provided a needed check to your house and the Governor's office.
Fourthly, when you briefly describe the importance of protecting vital services, you miss the point entirely. The point is this: we don't have the money to continue the level of spending on these (debatably) vital programs that we have in the past. We're broke. The fact that so many rely on these so-called critical services is beside the point. Self-reliance is American... Relying on government is un-American. Continuing to raise taxes on the wealthy is not the solution. The wealthy are the producers in our state. They're the ones who create the business, who invent the machines and who take great personal risk. They're the ones who, after using their ingenuity to start the business, provide jobs for dozens, hundreds or thousands. Why would the state of Ohio want to punish them with a higher tax burden?
My suggestion to you, as my representative here in the 42nd district, is this: get government out of the way. Government is contributing to the problem, not the solution. Government is restricting what I can and can't do as a business owner and as a private citizen.
Thank you for sharing your feedback with me.
I am not an idealogue like others you may have encountered, and I do take seriously the input I receive from folks like you in the community. Remember, though, that everybody in the community doesn't think exactly the same, so I have to assimilate the differing points of view.
I appreciate that you run a veterinary hospital. Small businesses are very important to this country and state, and to our community.
I'm glad that you also agree with our decision to continue the decrease in the state income tax this year. I hope that this helps you to hire additional employees, or do whatever else that you -- as a private enterprise - decide would be best to do with your business.
Tell me about other taxes that you pay to the state of Ohio so I can understand how they impact your business. Please also tell me any specifics on what the state is not allowing you to do as a veterinarian that you would like to do. It's only if I hear these things that I can do anything about them.
I have spent a fair amount of time visiting with businesses in our area, including entrepreneurial startups who are taking risk as they develop new products and services. I would be happy to come visit with you at your veterinary hospital as well, to learn more about your business.
I've spent a fair amount of time talking with people about the governor's education proposal, and I've provided feedback to the House committee working on the House version so that it could be improved. The most important part is the funding formula, which aims at overcoming the unconstitutional means of funding that has existed. The funding formula has received strong support, though of course the Senate -- as you recognize -- does not support it, so that will be an area of our state budget that is being worked out in conference committee.
You are right that we are in the middle of a national recession that started last year, and that our state has a shortfall of billions of dollars in state tax revenue, so services are being impacted. Services include libraries, prisons, and Medicaid, among other things.
Thank you for your feedback.
I hope to have the opportunity to meet with you and talk about your veterinary practice.
First let me say that I am grateful that you read my letter and that you took some time to personally respond. That's more than I get out of some other Representatives, Senators and Councilman in our area.
I appreciate your efforts to learn about area businesses in general, and my business specifically. I do not believe I have particularly unique needs as a veterinarian who owns a business. My goal as a veterinarian is to provide the highest quality service to my clients so that they can be sure that they receive the best value for the fees I collect. I believe that this is the goal of most business owners.
I also appreciate your claim to be interested in reducing Ohio's income tax. Ohio's tax reduction, though, must go further.
I feel no pity for the government having less revenue to spend on so-called vital services. When I, as a business owner, make less money, I have to spend less money, and there is nobody to whom I can complain. The government has no ability to make money, it can only collect money from the citizens by taxation. The shortfall that the state is experiencing is less of Ohioans' money that has been taxed away. Ohio's reduced receipts to the treasury is a sign that the business and economic climate is unhealthy. The treasury can be replenished by making Ohio business friendly state, but this will apparently not be a quick process. It took us a number of years to get to this point in Ohio, it will take a number of years to get out of it. The state's current economic situation will not improve as long as the leadership in Columbus is punishing the producers of the state.
Between my state income tax and the Commercial Activities Tax that my business pays, Columbus' complaints of decreased "revenue" fall on deaf ears. I am even less tolerant of politicians' complaints when I consider my federal taxes, my Social Security tax, my Medicare tax, my county sales tax, my property taxes, my cell phone usage tax, my water recovery tax, my DSL provider tax... they all add up. It is very frustrating to hear U.S. politicians, State politicians and local politicians all say something like, "We only collect X%, it's the others that collect so much more." The overall burden is excessive, and relief has to start somewhere.
With regard to being an ideologue, we all come to the table with an ideology. All of us have a worldview, a political philosophy and an economic philosophy. I hope you've noticed that I have not used the term "Republican" or "Democrat" in either of the letters that I have sent to you. Frankly, I'm tired of both parties. These issues have less to do with party affiliation, and more to do with economic philosophy. I believe in absolutes, especially when it comes to economics, and while there are clearly differences of opinion, some opinions are right, and others are wrong. I suggest we all worry less about political correctness and using language that allows us to feel good about ourselves, but instead implement those policies that are actually effective in the real world, and shun those policies that are't.
I'm convinced that the government's involvement, be it federal or state, as we are now experiencing in the private sector is not only damaging, but that it is morally wrong. Government's role should be to create an environment where businesses can work amongst themselves to maximize profit. This benefits everyone, from the business owner to the high school kid sweeping the floors. Currently, government is seizing profits, for instance via the state's Commercial Activities Tax. This is money to which government has no legitimate moral claim.
With regard to the issue of morality, I've come to this point and not yet mentioned the state's inheritance tax, Ohio's inheritance tax is nothing short of the state double-dipping into a family's hard-earned savings. This is the most immoral taxation of all, and it ought to be abolished.
Continuing on the issue of morality, it is important to note that business owners and producers who want to keep what they produce are neither greedy nor immoral. They work hard for what they earn, and they are entitled to keep what they earn. Further, you and I have no idea of the amount of charitable contributions producers in our area make on an annual basis. One of the frustrating points of our tax code, both federal and state, is that my taxes are taken from me before I provide for my family and make charitable contributions both to my church and to para-church organizations. That these contributions are tax-deductible at the end of the fiscal year is little consolation now, nor is it remotely enough in the long-run. Why doesn't the state of Ohio allow a tax credit for charitable contributions? Many of these charitable organizations provide the real vital services to the public, and they do so in a significantly more efficient manner than government.
At the end of the day, we apparently disagree on many of these issues. It is not my intention to change your mind, but rather to let you know that you have constituents who believe in free-market capitalism, and everything that comes with it. You should be aware that there are residents of the 42nd District that are fed up with excessive taxation and government regulation from all fronts, and with government's intrusive micromanaging of the economy. It is also valuable to know, and to tell your fellow state representatives, that there are business owners in Ohio who are very pessimistic about both the current economic climate and the direction we're headed under our current leadership.
I appreciate the time you've taken to consider my thoughts.
Thank you, Dr. Gates, for your additional feedback for me.
I understand your main point -- that you would like to see a further reduction in the income tax and the collection of all taxes combined, including the CAT tax and inheritance tax.
I appreciate hearing from you.
In the election of 2010, Mike Moran was defending his seat against Kristina Daley Roegner. He was defeated, making his seat available for someone who is pro-business, and we are happy to see Representative-Elect Roegner make her way to Columbus!
What I found most entertaining about this particular campaign, though, was Mr. Moran's campaign office location. I call it: Political-Fail.
7/26/2009, updated 11/3/10
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