Scott Tibbs

We must oppose a Patronage Tax and a Patronage Department

By Scott Tibbs, February 28, 2020

I got pretty good feedback on my letter to the editor, which I found surprising considering I was attacking a liberal social policy initiative by city government in a very liberal town. But there are a couple objections in the comments that need to be addressed.

One person complained that I was "trotting out the tired China and India narrative." Well, the reason I brought up China and Indiana is because if we are serious about reducing carbon emissions on a global level, the two biggest sources of carbon pollution need to be on board. The United States could put zero carbon into the atmosphere starting today and we would still have a significant amount of carbon emissions.

But that was not my main point. If these United States immediately ended all carbon emissions (which would throw the economy into chaos and bring on a global economic depression) it would have an impact on the environment and the climate. What Mayor Hamilton proposes to do by creating a Patronage Department will have absolutely no impact whatsoever. This is a city of about 80,000 people in a nation of over 325 million people on a planet of over 7.8 billion people. What Bloomington Indiana does will not matter at all.

One objection was the need for a bus system. We do not need a "climate tax" (Patronage Tax) to have a bus system that offers efficient routes and hours for people who either do not have a vehicle or choose to use public transit. The public policy benefits of a local public transit system have nothing to do with the proposal to implement a Patronage Tax or a new Patronage Department.

This is not about "doing the right thing." Climate initiatives by a small city in Indiana are virtue signaling, not meaningful public policy. But more importantly, Mayor Hamilton knows that this proposal is meaningless as policy. This is about creating patronage jobs for the Democratic machine in Monroe County politics, and assuring voters wholly motivated by "Orange Man Bad" that local Democrats also think that the Orange Man is very Bad, and we will "Resist" locally with a Climate Change Department. (In reality, again, a Patronage Department.)

Finally, I must reiterate my point that we need to reform the way county income taxes are passed. It is unjust that the city of Bloomington can unilaterally impose a Patronage Tax on the entire county, especially on people who are not legally allowed to vote in city elections. In fact, two thirds of people in the city were not allowed to vote in the 2019 city election, because the county election board canceled the election across the four city council districts that were uncontested. Passing a new Patronage Tax would be oppressive taxation without representation in the worst way.

Either the county council should get an equal vote on passing a new tax, or the new tax should apply only to people who live within city limits. If we can handle multiple property tax rates for city, county and township governments, plus local school systems, then applying an extra "climate tax" only to city residents should be something that is easy to accomplish. When will the Republican super-majority in the state legislature and the Republican governor step up and protect us from taxation without representation?

Opinion Archives

E-mail Scott

Scott's Links

About the Author