Bacon’s Rebellion has offered its take on November 7th third ballot initiative. See Bacon’s Rebellion: Shades of Henry George. Jim Bacon appears to be in favor of the amendment. However, I have a more dubious opinion of it.
The difficulty I have with Amendment 3 is that it once again puts government in the business of playing favorites. That is not an area where government has a good track record. Generally, what allowing the government to play favorites does is lead to unnecessary complexity and corruption.
What Amendment 3 is about is permitting localities to provide a partial exemption from real property taxes for real estate with new structures and improvements in conservation, redevelopment, or rehabilitation areas. The idea, for the most part, is to encourage development in blighted areas, and that sounds like a nice thing to do. However, before we put government in charge of fixing this problem, we ought to ask ourselves three questions: (1) is this a cost effective fix, (2) why are these areas blighted, and (3) can we trust government to implement this “fix.”
The answer to the first question will never be known for certain. Somebody may produce a calculation, but in truth, all we will ever have for an answer is pure conjecture. Nonetheless, we do know something for certain. This amendment will add more complexity to the tax code. Who wants more of that?
The answer to the second question depends upon the blighted area in question. However, we are generally talking about urban areas. In recent decades, the automobile has provided easy access to the suburbs. So people have moved out of the city and into the “country” for a better quality of life.
The government has subsidized this move to the “country” by building roads for developers. Now government wants to subsidize the rehabilitation of the urban areas it encouraged people to leave. Undoubtedly, the developers will benefit once again. Frankly, I think it would make more sense to charge people for using these “free” roads we have been building.
The answer to the third question is no. Who in their right mind trusts politicians? If we do not need to give our leaders this power over us, why give it to them? Our leaders definitely want this power. In fact, the General Assembly is so eager for this amendment that they have already passed a bill to implement it. That alone should be enough to give us pause.
Anyway, that is my take on amendment 3. Before you decide, make certain you check out the explanation provided at the Virginia State Board of Elections’ web site. See “Election Information” and then “Candidate Lists and Ballot Issues.” http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/cms/