Sales Tax vs. Reform

I’m not one of those knee-jerk tax opponents. I don’t enjoy paying taxes, of course, but I’m well aware that they are the entry fee for civil society. I appreciate the existence of police and fire services, public education, parks, public health, bridges, transit, and so on. I have no intention of moving to New Hampshire to escape “socialism.”

Even when I read about crippling pension and health care costs for state and city agencies, I wonder whether people who rail against them are merely jealous that only government employees get a safety net that everyone really ought to have.

And yet, when every day seems to bring a story like this one, about how the Boston Redevelopment Authority has two full-time model builders with “few regular responsibilities” and salaries that wind up in six figures with overtime, I wonder how the legislature can justify a sales tax increase without any kind of institutional reform. Daniel Gross says that operational efficiencies are the next mine of productivity improvements – maybe we need to look into that. And into firing some people. And probably eliminating a few extra city and state agencies, notably the widely deplored Turnpike Authority and Boston Redevelopment Authority.

It’s the same thing I say every time the MBTA gives me a survey to fill out: I’d gladly pay more for my fare if I thought you weren’t just wasting the money I give you now.

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