The Hot Beat


The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him:

Not just a penny, but a war

Opponents of the local-option sales tax see tomorrow’s election as just one battle in a philosophical war over the role of government in the United States of America.

On Saturday, opponents of the tax dumped river water off the First Avenue Bridge to express their disapproval for the tax.

Tea Parties are going on all over the country, as people protest what they see as the inexorable growth of government on all levels.

One of the men I spoke with on Saturday, a guy named Mike who lambasted my coverage of the leadup to the sales tax vote, explained that he has spent countless hours helping flood victims — helping them gut and clean out. “I am not against helping people, as I have shown. I do not believe the government is the best way of doing it,” he said.

This conversation inevitably, and it did Saturday, turns into a huge discussion about the role of government.

Bruce Koerber, of Cedar Rapids, says the U.S. must reject socialism and return to a model of “classical liberalism.” He explains much of the model in detail on his blog.

It’s clear that for these folks (and they present their views well) this is much more than an election deciding whether to impose a local-option sales tax. Sure, they’d like the city council to cut its budget. They wish the ballot were explicit in making sure the money goes only for buyouts. But really they simply don’t want to pay more taxes. They want government smaller. It is a war.

In an e-mail to me, Koerber said, “Do I expect that you will stick your neck out for something you don’t understand yet or do I expect that you will recognize that your profession is stuck in the middle – of a battle that is now very much being waged? I have no expectation only a right and responsibility to help people shed the indoctrination of government-funded education that tells them nothing about classical liberalism but constantly glorifies the virtues of the State. We are talking about an ideological change: from socialism to classical liberalism.”

Koerber goes so far as to say Cedar Rapids should become a tax free zone.

I’d be interested in people’s ideas.

Filed under: Cedar Rapids City Council, County Government, Flood, , , ,

4 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Appreciate the time Adam.

  2. Robby says:

    I’d like to hear more of the specs on a non-taxed society… My initial thoughts… No tax = no police force, no street renovations, more expensive public services, more expensive education, etc.

    One example – Let the people pay for police usage. That’s fine and dandy, but do you have people pay for the police on a per call basis?! Really? Can you imagine how expensive that system would be for those who needed to use it. Or worse yet, think of a case in which you haven’t paid your police or firefighter bill. Does 911 not respond and let your house burn down? More expensive police would make me believe that there would be a smaller police force. A smaller police force is more likely to lead to more crime. I’ll remain open minded – maybe there’s a more creative system I haven’t considered yet.

    Look at another example of repaving roads. Ok, so maybe you and your neighbors decide to fund your street’s improvements. But, who funds Edgewood Road or Collins Road?! What other alternatives are there? A toll? Do you charge the salt trucks for messing up your streets but securing your streets during the winter? Again, maybe I’m missing the point.

    To me, clearly there are public services that should be funded through taxes. What I encourage people to do is to answer the following questions: How much oversite is involved in the spending? Who prioritizes this spending? How is it prioritized. Is there transparency in the process? Once you answer some of these and others, start having discussions with your politicians – find out why the system is run the way it is. If you don’t get a good answer, consider running for office yourself or help someone else run who supports your thoughts. Be the change you want to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi

  3. Westside Res says:

    Well duh, most of us figured it out 6 weeks ago that opponents just plain did not want to pay taxes. Well joy how to you expect to get water piped to your home or your garbage picked up at the curb. Oh wait they expect it to be free. It’s too bad when they use a citizen’s tragedy to prove their point. And the sad part is no one will get off their hands and make changes in the laws that tax.

  4. Mike says:

    You miss the point, taxes are necessary for the government to fulfill it’s function: To provide for the people what they cannot provide for themselves. This is where the means to provide the police, infrastructure, firemen etc. are provided through taxes. Congress enacted the National Flood Insurance Program to provide people a way to recover in the event of flooding and to reduce the amount of taxpayer dollars used to pay for damaged properties located in areas prone to flooding. The premiums people pay go to pay claims for damages filed by people with Flood Insurance. No taxpayer dollars. Now, when the program first started it needed to be funded (with taxpayer dollars) to pay the early claims. But, in years with few claims the extra premium dollars go to pay off money borrowed from the treasury from years when claims outweighed premiums coming in.

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