The Tax Scrooges

ScroogeTax day seems to bring out the Scrooge in some people. Take for instance the gentleman who wrote into the Hendersonville Times News with a letter entitled “Pretty soon, we’ll all be on the dole.” His letter reflects an attitude held by many that our state government is wasting money, and the services the state provides are only benefiting lazy people who don’t want to work. These perceptions couldn’t be farther from the truth.

A breakdown of our state budget shows that approximately 60% of the budget goes to education. One fourth of the budget is spent on health and human services to care for poor children and the disabled, blind or mental ill in our state.

North Carolina’s cash assistance welfare program ended ten years ago. Work First, which now provides Temporary Aid to Families in Need for a limited period of time and requires recipients to work, has reduced the number of people ‘on the dole’ by 85%.

Many of the people seeking assistance from state health and human service programs are working full-time but do not have access to employer-provided health care and do not earn enough to afford private insurance. This chart prepared by the Cecil G. Shep Center, shows over 50% of adults earning less that 200% of the Federal Poverty Level are uninsured; 68% of children in this income level have no health insurance. These children, like tiny Tim Cratchit, cannot afford to see a doctor when they are sick.

Figures for the State Earned Income Tax Credit show the same thing, people are working hard but are not earning enough to keep pace with the rising costs of necessities like housing and child care. This year, one out of five NC families claimed an Earned Income Tax Credit on their federal tax return. Of these families, 69% earned less than $20,000 for the year.

Programs like the Health Choice for children, the High Risk Insurance Pool and the State Earned Income Tax Credit are not a waste of tax-payer money but proven, effective programs that can help lift millions of North Carolinians out of poverty.

Scrooge found his redemption in helping others. Now that tax day has passed, maybe those begrudging North Carolina taxpayers can soften their hearts and open their eyes to see that government programs that help the poor ultimately benefit all of us.

4 Comments

  1. Anglico

    April 18, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Problem is, they don’t care about “all of us.” That’s why we call them the NCPOG – Party of Greed.

    The right wing has had their soapbox for so long that many, many people have bought into their twisted view of reality. We have a lot of work ahead of us . . . and for every small success, we are having to fight to preserve other success from backtracking.

  2. paul bernard

    April 19, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    Spin left, spin right… it’s all BS
    If you really want to know what your legislature is doing, try this.
    Read every Bill put before the House and Senate, every line, every misleading named Bill, then and only then will you really know how poorly represented are the citizens of North Carolina.
    You will be amazed at the bizarre, ridiculous and stupid items. One recent item “Ban on selling light bulbs in North Carolina”. Spin that, please.

  3. Bill Biddle

    April 19, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    Much of your information is misguided. If taxes are not high in North Carolina why does the state rank 19th in the nation. Under the leadership of the Democrats the state taxes as a percent of income has climbed from 10 percent to 11 percent and the state budget has nearly doubled in just seven years.
    The state does not waste money well give me a break, the most glaring example is the Global Transpark for one and the large incentives that have been paid out to Dell and Merck which will never be recovered in jobs or taxes. Medicaid is out of control and long overdue for reform. The North Carolina medicaid program is one of the most generous in the country. Every year the John Locke Foundation identifies numerous budget cuts that would save the taxpayers billions of dollars but our good freinds in Raleigh ignore tax savings in favor of more spending. Maybe you are happy with paying high taxes but as a retiree I am fed up with high taxes.

  4. aplum

    April 23, 2007 at 7:51 am

    The NC legislature is ahead of the curve on lightbulbs. ” The light bulb industry is at a tipping point, according to this article about the move to phase out wasteful incandescent bulbs and phase in fluorescent ones.”