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David Post: ‘Hood Robin’ suddenly ready to help poor counties

Hood Robin.

That’s right, Hood Robin.

For the past several years, Hood Robin has been taking from the poor and giving to the rich. 

In the halls of Congress and the state legislature, Hood Robin has been busy.

Cutting taxes on the rich and raising taxes on the poor.

Taking votes from the poor while increasing the political power of the rich, the way it used to be and some believe it ought to be.

Eliminating inheritance taxes that only the rich pay.

Cutting taxes on business owners while raising sales and property taxes on their customers.

Reducing Medicaid for the poor.

Reducing spending on education, the only road on the map that goes from poor to rich. Increasing tuition at state universities, reducing student loans and increasing interest rates, making it more difficult for the poor to escape poorness.

Giving business owners special tax breaks. (Hood Robin recently gave me about $4,000 thinking that money would allow me to hire another employee. Right!)

Reducing local business license fees. After all, if a business can save $100 per year, more businesses will move to North Carolina. 

Deciding that the state legislature can manage Charlotte’s taxing authority better than Charlotte can. (Doesn’t Hood Robin believe in less centralized government and more local government control?)

Replacing Medicare with a voucher program so that seniors, 65 percent of whom live primarily on Social Security and pay about $105 per month for health insurance, can negotiate lower costs as they age, become more infirm and need more health care.

Voting monthly to repeal Obamacare and strip health insurance away from more than 16 million people.

Last week, however, Hood Robin flipped his cape and became Robin Hood with a plan to take from the rich and give to the poor.

Today, most sales taxes stay where they are paid. Smart counties enhance their economies, attract shoppers and keep the sales taxes spent there. When residents of one county shop in another county, that’s called leakage. Rowan County is a sieve and suffers hundreds of millions of dollars of leakage when local residents take their dollars and buy stuff in other counties. Those counties get the benefit of those sales tax dollars.

Apparently schizophrenic, Hood Robin disguised as Robin Hood now wants rich counties to give back to poor counties the sales tax dollars residents of poor counties leave in rich counties. Poor counties like Robin Hood. Rich counties don’t. They want to keep the tax dollars their businesses generate.

Rowan County has assets and infrastructure many counties would die for — an interstate highway, a major river, and the railroad — and is centrally located on the East Coast. However, Rowan County’s failure to pursue smart economic development for years has turned it into a poor county that exports tax dollars and jobs.

The Outer Banks, reliant on tourism, would lose over half of its sales tax dollars. Charlotte — now the 22nd largest city in the nation with the eighth busiest airport in the world — and Mecklenburg County could lose almost $100 million. Is harming one of North Carolina’s primary vacation destinations and its largest city good for the state?

Hood Robin would redistribute, a word it normally uses to bludgeon Robin Hood, several million from Charlotte and the Outer Banks to Rowan, not because Rowan has been smart enough to attract those dollars, but because it didn’t. At the same time, each of Rowan’s municipalities, from big ole Salisbury to little bitty Cleveland and Faith, would lose dollars.

Even though Hood Robin opposes the redistribution of wealth, ideology gives way to “Show-me-the-money.”

Suppose sports teams were required to play every player the same number of minutes. Would Michael Jordan and Terry Bradshaw have won multiple championships if their backups were given equal playing time?

By the end of this year, Marriott, Holiday Inn, and Hilton hotels will have brought 300 new rooms filled with travelers from outside Rowan County to spend their dollars here. The tides are going to turn. Rowan County has new leadership and new business coming. It may become a tax loser, not a tax winner, over the next few years.

Then Hood Robin will remove his Robin Hood cape and want to keep its own money.

David Post lives in Salisbury and serves on the Planning Board.



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