It’s great for people to freely fund noble causes like parks or the arts or whatnot, but never at figurative gunpoint—no matter how noble a cause may be, it’s never noble enough to justify theft. And we steal from people whenever we compel them to pay for things against their will, even if we do so legally by majority vote. This is because theft never changes its nature simply because it’s excused by popular belief, upheld by majority vote, legalized by politicians, and supervised by bureaucrats—forcibly taking things (except as a last resort in defense against aggression) is always wrong, although freely giving things is right.
So, rather than plunder our neighbors, we should freely choose to spend as much of our own (not others’) money as we please on whatever noble causes we please, and to freely persuade others to do likewise. Such decision-making should rightfully be left in the hands of 100,000 individual hard-working Provo residents, rather than arrogated by a small number of our politicians, even if they believe that they can spend our money better than we can, and even if they’re occasionally right.
Relatedly, political systems should never attempt to oversee a vast “alphabet soup” of protected business monopolies that provide every product/service under the sun, but should instead focus on expertly helping us all to defend their rights from others’ aggression. It’s not very expensive for a political system to simply help us to defend our rights, and we shouldn’t tolerate our hard-earned money being forcibly appropriated to fund so many additional purposes beyond rights-defense.
Sadly, Provo’s municipal officers have needlessly increased our taxes since 2001. They attempted but failed to enact a recreation tax in 2010, they successfully enacted property tax hikes, utility fee increases, and a new RAP (recreation, arts, and parks) tax in 2015, and they considered another tax hike in 2016. This money was presumably not spent on rights-defense but on other purposes; as such, both the spending and the taxing should be reversed.
Along with levying increasing taxes, Provo also oversees a number of city-run businesses that should be fully privatized, including a redevelopment agency, an electric power monopoly, a garbage collection service, a recycling service, a golf course, a fitness center, and a water park. Such businesses always serve the public best when they respond to consumers’ demands rather than politicians’ edicts.
(For more Problems, please see both Proliferating Ordinances and Borrowing-and-Building.)
- Bastiat Institute: “The Law” by Frédéric Bastiat
- Cato’s Letter: “How I Became a Libertarian” by Penn Jillette (2016 spring)
- Nacibupera: “Provo’s Prop 1: The Recreation Tax” (2010 Oct 06)
- Republican Legislative District 61: “Provo Rec Center Bond = More Debt, More Taxes” (2010 Oct 18)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Provo Council approves property tax increase, finalizes 2016 budget” (2015 Aug 04)
- Provo City Council: “Fundamental Points for Understanding the RAP Tax” (2015 May 26)
- Provo City Council: “Utility Rate Increases in the Budget” (2015 Jun 01)
- Provo City Council: “Fundamentals of the Proposed Property Tax Increase” (2015 Jun 24)
- BYU Daily Universe: “Provo approves tax increase for parks” (2016 Jan 15)
- Deseret News: “Provo considering another hike in property taxes and utility fees” (2016 Jun 05)
- Provo Daily Herald: “Provo Municipal Council passes lean budget, no new taxes” (2016 Jun 21)
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