Politicians of all stripes are rooting around for fresh money to fulfill past, present, and future promises lately, figuring that the economy is so hot that their depredations will go unnoticed and have no consequences. Let’s take a look at a Michigan example: the increase in license fees for hunting and fishing which the Legislature authorized in 2013 and which took effect in 2014.
The most popular hunting and fishing license prices doubled under the new fee schedule, although a direct comparison is not possible because the licenses were restructured to ‘simplify’ the license schedule. Governor Snyder’s goal for these increases was to raise an additional $ 18.1 million dollars annually for the DNR. The Senate Fiscal Agency benchmarked the anticipated annual increase at $ 19.7 million.
These are fees, paid voluntarily, so why should we care? Only taxes matter? The State of Michigan has been reducing the amount of money appropriated to the DNR from tax revenues since 2000, a reduction that now amounts to about 70%. So fees are now required to replace taxes. A common story across the United States. Fees play better with voters than taxes.
A long time ago, I would be asked to accompany family members who wanted to go to the local Fretter or Highland whenever they wanted to buy any appliances/electronics (yes, I know that I’m dating myself here). Part of it was because they knew that I had a vehicle big enough to bring home whatever they bought without much trouble. The other was that I could usually be counted on to hook it up after I brought it in.
One of the things I hated most about those experiences was dealing with the salesmen when actually making the purchase.
Even though my relatives were usually buying something listed in the newspaper ad so what we should be paying going out the door wasn’t a mystery, at the counter the salesman would always give them that sincere look and always ask them if they wanted to purchase additional items to go with what they were there to buy in the first place. Looking a little baffled at the salesman’s question and not appearing certain about how to answer, I’d step in at that point and tell them firmly, but politely, that I’ve hooked up enough TV’s, stereos, etc. to know what else I would need to get it to work and would’ve had it on the counter if we actually needed it. Being a little put off, but still undiscouraged, they turn to them again and ask about getting additional “warranty/insurance coverage” for their purchase. More often than not, it wasn’t any better than the manufacturer’s warranty. I strongly told them “no” for a second time.
At the time I didn’t know this, but they were using a technique called “upselling” which is a used for the benefit of the seller in additional to the actual sale of the item.
“Upselling” is also a technique being used by the Republican Leadership in Lansing to rationalize to the people they represent why they have abandoned their own stated principle of, ‘government practicing fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.’
Like most Conservatives here, I was disappointed, but honestly not surprised in the least, by last weeks vote in the Michigan House on the “Grand Bargain”.
I say this because leading up to the vote, when my sources go dark, or when they do finally return my calls and begin to waffle, that is almost always an indication that things are going bad rather quickly.
I’m not going to mince words here. Aside from absolutely hating that misleading term “Grand Bargain”, I still can’t see why people in Lansing can’t/won’t do their homework on what is really going on here and why they are reticent on calling a bailout what it actually is: a bailout.
You’re probably asking yourselves; what causes people like that to lose their way?
Limited government and fiscal responsibility were once hallmarks of the Republican Party platform a long time ago.