Grant County will be giving a 75 percent property tax break to the “Ark Encounter” theme park, which will soon be built there. This is in addition to the approximately $47 million tax exemption granted by the state.
While, as a Christian, I support this venture and see it as a viable business idea, I see no reason to grant them an exception over other businesses in the tax code.
The claim is that the Ark Encounter will create jobs, so the tax break will feed back into the community. Therefore everyone benefits, and thus the tax exemption is justified. But what about businesses in other areas of the state, who pay full taxes and will not benefit from the Ark Park’s existence?
The time has come to end the government’s ability to pick winners and losers.
We hear a lot of talk from pundits about “paying our fair share.” Yet no one can really articulate exactly what “share” is “fair.”
The description of fair varies from individual to individual. Hollywood actor and activist Matt Damon thinks we should take 50 percent of every dollar earned by people making over $1 million per year. Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore says the government should be able to “take” an untold amount of the cash that rich people are sitting on because that “cash belongs to us, it’s a national resource.” President Barack Obama thinks that “at some point, you’ve made enough money,” whatever that means.
While many are decrying the rich for allegedly not paying their fair share, they fail to see the real inequities in the American tax system. Why is it OK that General Electric made nearly $14 billion in profits last year and paid almost no taxes? Yet when oil companies make the same profit, they are derided as evil, greedy owners of “corporate jets.” Could it be that some have subjectively decided that GE is good because their CEO Jeffry Immelt sits on Obama’s economic advisory board? Does it matter to them that GE just shipped thousands of jobs to China?
The problem with the left’s position on taxes is that it can’t seem to define the words its adherents use to describe their own ideology. They seem to think that the government owns all of our income and that it’s only OK for us to keep that which government benevolently allows us to have — based on our abilities and needs of course.
Enter the millions of confusing and overlapping tax deductions, loopholes and exemptions. Our tax code is so inscrutable that it may actually be impossible to determine what is fair and what is not. But why wouldn’t it be fair to allow all businesses and individuals to compete in the marketplace on a level playing field?
Again the left attempts to define a level playing field as one in which positive outcomes are ensured for all by a benevolent government. Such a policy can no more successfully be enforced than an NFL football game can be fairly played if referees were allowed to make rule changes on the fly. No team in its right mind would set foot in a stadium without first being assured that the rules are concrete, apply to every player and are written and enforced — thus ensuring that the best team wins. Why should the economy be any different?
Some of my friends have told me that if the Ark Park didn’t get this exemption an opportunity to create jobs would be missed. This is not a sufficient argument for giving some a favorable tax rate over others, but rather a stronger argument that our overall taxes are too high. How many more businesses would locate in Kentucky if we assured them of friendlier and fairer tax environment?
Leland Conway is co-founder and executive editor of www.conservativeedge.com and host of the Pulse of Lexington on News Radio 630 WLAP.