Taxpayer involvement of Nashville park unclear

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 7:47 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Gov. Bill Haslam and Mayor Karl Dean were happy to join Dolly Parton on stage, sing her praises, give her birthday flowers and offer their governments’ support as she announced plans to build a water and snow park with Gaylord Entertainment Co. But the mayor and governor weren’t as expansive when reporters started asking exactly what that support would look like.

Read more from The Tennesseean.

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Monday, January 23, 2012 2:09 PM

Seems like a legit question to ask. Maybe not at the press conference/photo op announcing it. Though politicians should be called more to task with respect to projects such as these. Typically, they oversell the benefits and undersell the costs to taxpayers. But at this point, I suspect all you need to do is say a project will generate 10 jobs and folks will be all for it.

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Monday, January 23, 2012 4:45 PM
Jeff's avatar

It brings up the core of the problem that I see with the politics of government spending. Everyone seems to want less spending and less taxes, which results in a net zero change in deficit. That's like me making less money, spending less money, but still having the same mortgage. It's not like my debt obligations go away.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Monday, January 23, 2012 8:03 PM
rollergator's avatar

We will probably always disagree on what our collective tax money should be spent on - but we should all be able to agree that drastically reducing revenues will NEVER balance the budget.

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Monday, January 23, 2012 8:39 PM

But we can't agree on what tax rate actually "reduces revenues" either. It is not a static observation. Reduce taxes and create more taxable events is a ploy used by the left and right. I am going to guess they know it works.

Want to bet the tactic used to incentivize this Dollywood project is some sort of tax rebates? Smart planners know that to maximize revenues you cannot squeeze the golden goose too much. But rather than reopen old wounds...safe to say that gator/Jeff will not agree with me on exactly where the tax rate should be. We just see the world differently.

I agree that "reducing revenue" is not what we want. I believe that lower taxes for everybody...specifically job producing corporations...is the best means to maximize revenue. I would much rather collect smaller rates from exponentially greater taxable events. I will guess those on the left will call for more taxes in "the rich.". Never mind that the politicians we elect only pay lip service to taxes as a means of class warfare.

If we COULD ever turn the entire discussion into a study of "revenues collected"...we could all gain. But politicians lose their most powerful emotional vote incentive if they let smart economics determine tax policy.

It is not rocket science. Simple trial and error could solve the problem. What happens to economic growth when we change tax A. how about tax B? Etc... But I guarantee you that telling the public a flat rate of 20-25 percent (numbers made up for argument sake) does not gather the emotional response and associated votes that come with shouting "the rich don't pay their damn share."

Edit to add (in fairness) that " the poor (who go to Sea World on my dime) need to put some skin in the game themselves"

Last edited by Aamilj, Monday, January 23, 2012 8:44 PM
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 2:32 AM

Aamilj said:
Simple trial and error could solve the problem. What happens to economic growth when we change tax A. how about tax B? Etc...

Well, for the last ten years or so we've tried dropping the tax rates for the "job creators" to record lows, and look where that's gotten us. Time to try something new.

Back to the article at hand- yes, it is absolutely BS that the politicians aren't saying anything about what they are committing the taxpayers to. That kind of information should always be made available to the people who's money you are using.


And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 6:24 AM

I'll never understand the perpetuation of the myth that "job creators" create jobs simply because they have extra money laying around. Not only does this myth not jive with observed history, it is also completely and totally illogical.

Companies hire people only when demand for their product increases beyond what their current capacity can output.

As such, reducing taxes on those who buy those products will do more to create jobs (by increasing demand) than will reducing taxes on corporations.

This is not to say that either of these "solutions" is optimal. However, if our only two choices were to reduce taxes on individuals in lower tax brackets (i.e. the majority) or to reduce taxes on corporations, it's utterly insane to suggest the latter is the most logical choice.


Brandon | Facebook

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 9:10 AM
Jeff's avatar

I don't know where the myth comes from either. If I run an existing business, I don't hire people because I have extra money, I hire them because there is demand for my product or service.

I would make a case for new businesses, to an extent. This opinion piece reinforces that belief:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/give-entrepreneurs-room-and-...story.html

It's not about giving Joe Sixfigure who works for The Man a tax break. That does nothing.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 10:49 AM

I work for Jane Sixfigure (actually more like Sevenfigure) and what did she do when I told her what our tax liability for 2011 would be? She certainly didn't hire anyone, but she did get a shiny, new luxury SUV....

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 11:00 AM
Vater's avatar

How dare she.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 3:10 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

djDaemon said:
This is not to say that either of these "solutions" is optimal.

That's the problem I have.

Both approaches simply redistribute wealth in different ways and neither seems to create it.

And this ties into what Jeff says:

Jeff said:
I would make a case for new businesses, to an extent. This opinion piece reinforces that belief:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/give-entrepreneurs-room-and-...story.html

As cliched as it sounds, to me it's as simple as helping people help themselves. The top down approach gives help to people who probably don't need it. The bottom up approach seems to help people on a completely temporary basis that benefits no one in the long term.

If you're going to help anyone, help those that will create more wealth. Those that will add something to the equation.

At the risk of sounding too Glenn Beck-y, help the entrepreneurs of this country do what they do best - create jobs, wealth and growth.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Tuesday, January 24, 2012 3:19 PM
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 3:28 PM

I agree with the ideas presented in the linked article. The problem is that tax cuts are rarely, if ever, so effectively focused as to actually create jobs, wealth and growth.

If forced to choose between the two admittedly-poor options of tax cuts for the wealthiest whatever%, or tax cuts for everyone else, the most economically viable option is the latter. That option may not solve any fundamental problems, but at the very least it keeps the economic engine churning, which is good not only for the "99%", but also "job creators".


Brandon | Facebook

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 3:45 PM
Jeff's avatar

The tax breaks that they decide are really just another form of stimulus, only instead of just writing checks to random everyone, you reduce risk to create new business. It's still a slippery slope, when you try to differentiate tax cuts and spending (both have the same effect on the bottom line), but the former is at least something akin to teaching a man to fish.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 5:24 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Yeah, if you're going to reduce the bottom line, at least be betting on something in the process.

It shouldn't even be an argument of top down or bottom up. That's asking the wrong question.

I don't care if you're at the top, bottom, middle, front, back, left, right, upside down, inside out, over, under...whatever. The question should be what do we get in return.


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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 6:00 PM

I appreciate that article Jeff. Agree with a lot of it.

The problem with any discussion of tax policy is that most cannot agree on what the definition of fair is. I happen to believe a national sales tax, or to a lessor extent a flat tax is the most fair means of asking the populace to put their skin in the game. I've never understood how we got to a point in which different tax brackets for different people is the new definition of fair.

Asking EVERYBODY to pay exactly the SAME PERCENTAGE, which I consider the very essence of FAIR, is looked at as a criminal suggestion by many in our country. As soon as I or so many others suggest everybody pay the same rate, studies come out and fear-mongers accuse us of beating the poor, etc.

And that is the point... Where is there room for agreement? I know I cannot be convinced that asking half the country to pay an effective zero (federal) rate, the next (50-95%) 45% of the populace to chime in about 28% while the top 5% use exemptions and stock options to pay 0-10% fair. Every person from the bottom to Buffet should pay something.

But those that disagree with me are not willing to consider raising taxes on ANYBODY except some mythical "rich." I'll give you the top 1%, 10%...whatever you want to call it if you will bend and admit that EVERYBODY who benefits from government services should have their own skin in the game. We should ALL be contributing.

And lets be honest...nobody is going to cut spending. And why in the heck would ANYBODY in the bottom 50% agree to spending cuts. They are not paying the bill. Only the politicians that promise them the most "free" stuff get the vote. Credit cards for Sea World trips anybody?

Democrats won't even talk about spending. You realize they have not proposed a single budget in 1000 days (most in which they controlled every branch of government) because they do not want to go on record about where they would cut. This is because they have no desire or plans to cut. They will never say it. But we all know it. There is not a democrat out there willing to reform social security or MC...unless it involves spending even MORE (see Obamacare).

Moment to note that they (democrats) can be worked with on the military. Most love a good chop to the military...but don't EVER try and go after any of the other first responders (police, firemen, etc). There is a union lesson in there ;)...but save it for another day.

Republicans are even worse. They will talk tough about cutting spending to get elected...go to DC... and support even more spending (See Bush's Medicare Prescription Drug Plan).

Should tax loopholes for the top be fixed ...yes. Should the bottom 50% have to contribute a pittance to the coffers...yes. Should the Federal Government have a balanced budget amendment...yes. Should we reform entitlements...yes.

Could ANYBODY get elected on such a platform...hell no. Won't even get a platform. Neither party would accept such common sense.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 6:55 PM

"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.”

"When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."

The biggest problem that we face is folks either don't think we have a deficit/debt problem (annual trillion plus dollar deficits and tens of trillions of unfunded promises going forward are not viewed as problems for a lot of people) or they want to fix those issues on the backs of someone else. Cut spending but just not the spending that I like or spending that benefits me. Increase taxes just not mine.


The question should be what do we get in return.

Unfortunately, thats not always easy to determine. Governments typically commission amazing and glowing reports and studies that show huge benefits and low costs. But knowing whether any of that actually plays out in real life is difficult to know. Typically you are looking at the long term and we don't have much patience for the long term (politicians who put the measures in place are typically long gone from office). A lot of the info needed to make the determination isn't easily obtained. And cause/effect are difficult to tie together. There are no control groups in terms of economic/policy decisions. It can become something of an ink blot test with different people finding different things. You can make a decision today and another one 5 years from now and compare the results but its tough to quantify what other changes/factors played into those results.

Last edited by GoBucks89, Tuesday, January 24, 2012 6:56 PM
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 5:04 AM

Aamilj said:

Asking EVERYBODY to pay exactly the SAME PERCENTAGE, which I consider the very essence of FAIR, is looked at as a criminal suggestion by many in our country. As soon as I or so many others suggest everybody pay the same rate, studies come out and fear-mongers accuse us of beating the poor, etc.

For starters, most economists estimate the tax rate needed under a flat system to keep today's level of revenues (which is already too low) is around 17%. For most of the richest Americans, that's a shade lower than their current effective rate (unless they make all their money through capital gains) but for the average American, it would be about 2-3 times what they pay now. So you're asking the middle class and poor to potentially triple their tax burden, while giving even more breaks to those who need it the least?

Not to mention, is it really that shocking that the people who own most of the wealth pay most of the taxes? It sounds shocking to say "The top 10% pay 80% of the taxes" until you realize they also control 80% of the wealth. Makes sense to me.



Democrats won't even talk about spending. You realize they have not proposed a single budget in 1000 days (most in which they controlled every branch of government) because they do not want to go on record about where they would cut. This is because they have no desire or plans to cut.

Oh, you mean like the $4 trillion in cuts Obama himself proposed, which was double what the Republicans came up with, yet was still shot down by Republicans?


And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 7:45 AM

I came across this piece, which ties in quite succinctly to the discussion. It's written by Nick Hanauer - a successful startup investor.

A couple notable excerpts:

It is unquestionably true that without entrepreneurs and investors, you can’t have a dynamic and growing capitalist economy. But it’s equally true that without consumers, you can’t have entrepreneurs and investors. And the more we have happy customers with lots of disposable income, the better our businesses will do.

I can’t buy enough of anything to make up for the fact that millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans can’t buy any new clothes or enjoy any meals out. Or to make up for the decreasing consumption of the tens of millions of middle-class families that are barely squeaking by, buried by spiraling costs and trapped by stagnant or declining wages.

If the average American family still got the same share of income they earned in 1980, they would have an astounding $13,000 more in their pockets a year. It’s worth pausing to consider what our economy would be like today if middle-class consumers had that additional income to spend.


Brandon | Facebook

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:06 AM
Jeff's avatar

I'm a little troubled by the word "share" because it comes with some amont of entitlement baggage. That said, where is this additional income supposed to come from?


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:30 AM

Well, if they're getting a smaller share, some other group is getting a larger share. The "larger share" group would be providing the income. (Or any word you prefer instead of "providing")

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