My ‘Happy New Year’ begins as usual with receipt of a tax letter from Loretta Raimone, Receiver of Taxes for Clarkstown, giving me news about the amount that I must pay for my Town Taxes.
This year Ms Raimone presented me with a bill of $6197 due to be paid by January 31, 2012 “without penalty”.
That relatively innocuous and seemingly non-threatening phrase "without penalty" reminds me of a comment by the English Writer, Terry Pratchett, who opined that:
“Taxation is just a sophisticated way of demanding money with menaces.”
Ms Raimone’s letter is indeed a very ‘sophisticated demand’ especially as I note that the zero rise in taxes so heavily touted by the Town of Clarkstown during the 2011 re-election season …. and which I, with an open mind, came to believe was the major achievement of Mr. Gromack’s last administration ….. is not something that I am to continue to enjoy during his new reign as Supervisor for the Town of Clarkstown.
But then you know what my friend, Terry, would say:
“The trouble with having an open mind is that people will come along and put things in it."
Our Town leader presumably shares in the wisdom of Monsieur Jean Baptiste Colbert, Minister of Finance under the French ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV who informed the king in the mid-seventeenth century that the art of taxation is: “to so pluck the goose that one obtains the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”
Now that we have re-established a two year reign for Clarkstown’s ‘Sun King’ without excessive election-year hissing from the local geese, I must report that one goose has begun to hiss rather loudly with receipt of the latest tax bill from Madame ‘Colbert.’
In 2012 my goose will have been plucked to an extent of 81.5% more than in the year 2000. On average this has been a plucking rate of an additional 5.7% every year for the past twelve years. And although the Sun King gave my goose and the rest of the flock a hiatus in the 2011 election year (with just a 0.7% increase in plucking over what the flock had endured in 2010) there was no net growth in plummage for any of the geese to justify resumption of plucking at the historic rate of increase of 5.7%. Hiss!
Nor can my goose’s hissing be ameliorated by Madame Colbert’s offer for me to use a ‘credit card’ if my goose is unable to meet the demand from its presently available 'feather' assets. Charging the amount due on a credit card, for which the average overall market rate is presently a mere 16.7%, may lead to starvation of my goose. Hiss, hiss!
Thomas Paine reminds us that “what at first was plunder had assumed the softer name of revenue”. But looking at my poor ragged goose I think that Paine had his statement backwards. What at first was 'revenue' for the Town of Clarkstown in the year 2000 has assumed the harsher name of 'plunder' and for this I say to Louis XIV and Tax Collector Colbert:
"Happy New Year but Hiss, Hiss, Hiss!"
Michael N. Hull