It's time to bag the tea party

We beg to differ with State Rep. John Barker’s assertion, elsewhere on this page, that the most recent legislative session was an unqualified success.

Yes, the Legislature lowered sales and income taxes, but at what cost and to what end?

Car dealers in the county say the measly 0.015 percent reduction in sales tax is so small it won’t encourage additional sales — just $45 for even a $30,000 vehicle.

Reductions in income tax may be minorly appreciated in paychecks, but spiraling college tuition, largely a result of reduced funding because of tax cuts, threatens to block the pathway out of economic doldrums that historically has been vital to students from modest rural and urban backgrounds.

More tragic, perhaps, is that rather than talk about the shriveling dream of affordable, life-changing education, all anyone wants to complain about is whether medical colleges will be inefficiently spread across multiple cities in the state so that each can collect its share of educational pork.

The only thing the Legislature actually accomplished was creating more work for lawyers, accountants, and bookkeepers in changing already cumbersome tax tables. Worse, while making those changes, they will have to fear whether some unhinged follower of the Legislature’s “taxes bad, guns good” mantra is packing heat.

Forbidding local governments to ban concealed weapons in public buildings is perhaps the single most stupid and out-of-touch action by the Legislature — specifically including Barker and State Sen. Jay Emler.

Does anyone other than a few crazed gun enthusiasts actually believe that public buildings are safer if some patrons visiting them are armed? Perhaps if even-keeled citizens with extensive training in crisis situations were packing heat it would be. But look around at those wanting to carry weapons. Do you feel safer knowing that those people could whip out deadly force without warning?

The Legislature loves to “solve” problems that don’t exist — like requiring cumbersome ID records to vote, even though there has been almost no voter fraud. Fix the bureaucracy, sure. Eliminate silly notions such as how senior centers have to serve an extra meal because of snow days. But don’t cripple our future by saddling young people not only with our pension debt but also with educational debt.

Roger Holter, Marion’s new economic developer, likes to talk about what makes some towns successful and others not. In that game, nothing trumps the skills of the local work force. Education — real education, not sports and activities — should be the area we invest most heavily in.

Starving rather than reforming the bureaucracy, arming citizens, and saddling future generations with debt may take us back to the good old days of Wyatt Earp, but they are hardly an enlightened policy for the future.

— ERIC MEYER

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