Why is more tax the solution to every problem?

Being in downtown Minneapolis these days is like being in downtown Los Angeles at the start of that old Charlton Heston movie The Omega Man: there are few people around even at peak hours and everywhere is closed.

A number of things have brought the city to this sorry pass. One is crime. Another is anti-business government policy. The final coup de grâce was shutdowns of businesses and measures like mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic, which were stricter in the cities than elsewhere in the state. All have combined to create a perfect storm that is pushing individuals and businesses out of the city.

What is to be done, as Lenin asked? The city council could start by getting serious about crime and attracting businesses which means more cops and lower tax and regulatory burdens.

I know, I know, “How are you going to pay for the cops if you cut taxes?” First, you have to recognize that maintaining law and order is the core function of government, before anything else. Second, you have to recognize that cutting tax rates doesn’t necessarily mean cutting tax revenues, especially when all your businesses have split and there is nobody left to pay the high rates you’re imposing. There isn’t a painless way out of the hole the city is digging itself into.

Sadly, and predictably, Minneapolis city council members see it differently. How do you solve a problem like empty storefronts? The same way you solve every single other problem – you impose a tax. As Robin Wonsley, a socialist member of the city council, said:

As a socialist, Ms Wonsley probably won’t mind me (probably not) quoting Lenin again: “The Worse, the Better.” Things in the city won’t improve until the people there want them to improve. That desire doesn’t seem to be there yet, or, if it is, it isn’t allied to much sensible thinking. Maybe a policy as ludicrous as taxing empty storefronts will do it.