One of the great economic studies of our time will be were Americans paying too much, or too little, in taxes.
First, it's important to understand that, regardless of your feelings toward the subject of taxes, it is an economic covenant by which this country has agreed to fund certain things. It is here, a system in which citizens participate at all levels, every year (and in some cases every minute), and for the time being it's not going anywhere.
So no arguments of constitutionality will be had here, or whether or not taxes are the best way to go. It is the box in which the United States has chosen to fund a great many things including infrastructure, government activities, law enforcement, fire protection, and education.
Government activites can be anything from utilities to running a ctiy, but part of the pool of money that citizens pay in taxes go to these men and women who run those systems - let's call that pot 'administrative payroll.'
What's interesting is the constant calls for 'improved' services, without the willingness to sacrifice for those things.
For instance - the road program can't keep Livingston Parish roads maintained. This has become a fact, and while a long-standing debt will soon be paid, the program still lacks nearly $10 million per annum to sufficiently manage just the road infrastructure in the parish.
Let's take another example - the union of the Denham Springs Police Department continues to go back and forth with the city's administration. They're looking for more pay.
And who can blame them? It's a difficult job to patrol the streets of a city that sees nearly 100,000 cars pass through on their way to, and from, Baton Rouge.
What of the schools? Consider the teachers, who are going every day to school to teach while also caring for students in a virtual world. They've had but a precious few months to prepare, with no extra pay for training or those long hours making sure the virtual students have at least some things on which to work.
And yet there are calls for them to do more, and even stranger some calls for the district to pay them more immediately! Out of what funds, you might ask? Who knows, but they believe those teachers have earned it and the money should just appear in their bank accounts.
Many who argue against taxes suggest that the revenue is supposed to grow alongside new homes and bodies inside the parish. It's true, fundamentally speaking, that revenues have grown rather rapidly since Katrina caused a population boom to start in the 'Free State.'
However, has it grown in step with the cost of goods and cost of operation required for these projects? The obvious answer is 'no.'
Jump back to the road program example - in 2018 and 2019 the parish utilized an unfunded 2017 road program to apply for a grant for both of those years. By utilizing the grant, the parish actually had the required money to do the requisite amount of roads in one year necessary to keep up with demand.
The move was a coup for the Ricks administration.
The problem? There's no guarantee the parish can get that grant again, meaning back to Livingston Parish's regularly scheduled programming until another year wherein the parish might get lucky on a grant application.
But, you might say, perhaps we're overpaying the federal government in taxes since we have to go to them for grants in almost every situation?
Perhaps, but even the feds cannot afford their appetite for spending, as America faces the brink of debt with the potential for GDP growth to fall below the necessary interest payments on debt.
That will be a hard pill to swallow.
Don't buy it? Think of the Darlington Reservoir, a $1.2 billion flood mitigation implement that would have prevented, roughly, 80-85% of the flooding in 2016. All said and done, that's a savings worth over 10 times the investment.
The government's answer? 'Doesn't pass the feasability test, and we can't afford it.' And, yes, they really cannot afford the project.
None of the lesser governments can afford it, either... in fact it's not even close.
And how could they? These are the same governments that need grants for bullet-proof vests for officers, that must seek funding to help provide connectivity to students and do not have the revenues to help bring internet to some places in the parish, even the state.
And, no, more taxes won't help. The amount of taxes required to bring us up to a level where projects of Darlington's caliber, teacher and officer pay reaches even above-average levels, and officers can afford regular upgrades and renewals of bullet-proof vests is not sustainable at all. Citizens are already sweating 5-mill taxes and personal income taxes in this 'booming economy.'
That's not real, by the way.
There's a fundamental problem with America's economy, and it starts at the top and comes down, wherein money simply isn't being earned, and spent, at a rate that keeps up with the cost of goods and projects.
And it's only getting worse.