Monday, January 26, 2015

Montgomery County's Entitlement

So the Governor announced his budget a few days ago, and something the people who will be impacted by the cuts are already up in arms about them.

Specifically, Montgomery County, the eleventh wealthiest country in the country, has at least some school officials are decrying Governor Hogan's cuts to their education welfare - the cut is not to their education budget, but rather to the special subsidy Montgomery County receives for being an "expensive" area to run schools in.

But Montgomery County is the second-wealthiest county in the state, and the eleventh wealthiest county in the United States. The median household income is $94,965, nearly six figures. The county's public schools have a reputation of being among the best. The county not only enjoys great wealth, but also already enjoys schools that are leaps and bounds above average. The high costs of educating students in Montgomery County are the direct result of the county's substantial wealth. It is no accident - the wealthier the individuals in an area, the higher the prices in an area. The wealth of the individuals is the driving the high local prices. In short, the high-cost subsidy is a subsidy to the rich for living in rich neighborhoods.

And the funding for the high-cost subsidy comes from across the state, meaning the support the second-wealthiest county in the state comes primarily for poorer counties with lower household incomes. It is a subsidy to the rich for living in rich neighborhoods that comes from poorer people who can't afford to live in rich neighborhoods.

So here we have rich Democrats complaining that the costs of their local government services fall slightly more on themselves rather than on poorer people. Complaining about the benefits cut suggests that the complainers want the poor to help pay for the government programs the rich benefit from.

This is standard Democratic protocol, however. For all the talk about fairness, equality or social justice, the core principle that motivates the promoter of social programs is what motivates everyone else - personal profit. Montgomery County is one of the most important bastions of Democratic strength. That support may have served as a payoff for the support of local voters and politicians. Certainly it wasn't in support of an exceptionally poor county.

If Montgomery County wants to spend that money from their citizens, let them raise taxes to pay for it. Those people who would object to such a tax can leave the county, and those that support it can stay and pay it.

But that is why Democrats seek to put taxes at the highest level possible - to prevent high-tax jurisdictions from being punished for overtaxing the citizenry by having the citizenry leave. A city tax is inferior to a county tax, inferior to a state tax, inferior to a national tax, inferior to a worldwide tax. Taxes imposed by a higher-level government can be raised higher than taxes on a lower-level, because they are harder to escape.

So the complaint, really, is not "Our subsidy was cut", but is actually "We don't want to be responsible for our spending."

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