• The Safety Ruse

“The Safety Ruse”
Dec. 13, 2006, with a mere handful of Washington citizens in attendance, the Washington City Council voted unanimously to amend Title V of the Code of Washington regarding certificates of occupancy and inspections.

The passage of this seemingly innocuous ordinance will touch every person in Washington who plans to buy, sell or rent their homes after April Fools’ Day, 2007. The council had made attempts since 2002 to have this change ramrodded through the committee, but was always met with substantial community resistance. But without the friction of public dissent, the city council finally managed to pass their pet project.

This law will require a city inspector (for the sum of $75) to come to your residence and proclaim it “safe” for habitation. (The fine print: “The city is not liable for any deficiencies or defects on the premises. It is not a substitute for the inspections performed by private inspection agencies and is not a guarantee or warranty regarding the present or future condition of the house.”) In short, the inspections have no intrinsic value other than a very big hammer being held over our collective heads, demanding compliance or else.

And if you are not in compliance, guess what, you can forget about selling your home or renting it out to Aunt Annie. But not to worry, because waiting to help you out in your time of need, is the infamous Washington-licensed contractor. I guess it’s a great deal if you are a plumber or electrician, collecting new fat fees as desperate owners scurry to get their “safety” problems addressed — at $50 per hour, plus the standard $75 call-out fee and 300 percent markups on parts. What a country.

If you haven’t sold your home in 120 days, call up the boys at city hall and schedule yourself another inspection — it’s only good for 120 days. Cha ching, $75 more dollars in the treasury.

Think you can ignore the new law? Try it. The city council was almost giddy in their newfound “teeth” with penalties of $500 and or 90 days in the pokey for noncompliance. (Read the minutes, on their Web site.)

You may be asking, “Why do we need such an intrusion into our lives?” Well, dummy, it’s for our own safety. Funny thing is, when I asked my representative, “Are we having a problem with people not being safe in Washington homes?” I was given a vacuous response about our great city insurance rates. Well, Mr. Councilman, if our city insurance rates are already so great, why do we need such a new ordinance — to make the rates greater than great? More long pauses, followed as foundering birth was being given even more supercilious explanations.

So, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, a new intrusion by government into our lives that promises to make you safer than safe and government even bigger than big. Our great American government doing what it does best — fixing what isn’t broken, while simultaneously raising your taxes (it is a tax). But don’t fear because the city of Washington can now hire even more employees to complete these new safety inspections that we apparently (and luckily) did without for some 120 years.

Personally, I would like to see them spending our money on the more mundane — such as plowing the snow off of our streets, keeping drunks off of the roads or cell phone bandits from running red lights and taking out entire families . . . you know, the kinda things that really affect our safety.

I will leave you with the immortal words of Will Rogers, “Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.”

Guy W. Midkiff


Published in: on January 15, 2008 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

• A Taxing Predicament

A Taxing Predicament

Guy W. Midkiff
307 Ashley Ct.
Washington, Mo.

Dec 21, 2007

In the 12/22/07 Missourian, a career bureaucrat and one-time state tax commission chairman appears to tell us how lucky we are having  the privilege of paying a smorgasbord of ever-increasing taxes.

For a little perspective, the average American had to work until April 30th, of this year, to get to the point where they actually made money (Tax Freedom Day) for themselves. The breakdown looks like this:

Individual Income Taxes: 43 Days
Social Security Taxes: 30 Days
Sales & Excise Taxes: 16 Days
Property Taxes: 12 Days
Corporate Income Taxes: 14 Days
Other Taxes: 4 Days
Estate and Gift Taxes: 1 Day
Total: 120 Days

We spend the first 120 days of each year paying for government. “Less” important items such as: Food, housing, and clothing costs the average American 105 days of labor. And how many days does the average American spend working to pay for state and local services? Try 41 days – more than we spend on food, or clothing, or transportation, or (heaven forbid) recreation. To make it worse, Tax Freedom Day does not count weekends or holidays. More sobering is how taxes paid as a percentage of income have grown from 5.9% in 1900 to a whopping 33% in 2007.

Mr. Smith would have us contently believe that we have three categories of taxes to choose from: Income, property, or sales taxes. I think there is an obvious fourth category: Tax decreases. In his 1300 word tax defense parry, scarcely a suggestion was made about how we can reduce taxes instead of the predictable increases. Municipalities simply do not play by the same rules that American Corporations play by. There are no market forces or checks and balances to ensure that each dollar of taxpayer revenue is jealously guarded. And any executive or accountant, worth his salt, knows that a dollar cut from expenses is vastly more efficient than a dollar added to revenue. It is an interesting dynamic; how are property values stagnate (even decline) and yet our property tax rates go up. And now the city gets an $800,000 windfall and what do we do with it? I can tell you what we aren’t doing with it – giving it back to the taxpayer.

It is a good thing that we do not get as much government as we pay for. “Will Rogers”

Published in: on January 15, 2008 at 11:06 am  Leave a Comment