In the story of Robin Hood, Prince John’s “tax collectors” extract revenue from the poor and provide nothing in return. There is no appeal, no recourse. In Minnesota, the State legislature is playing the same role as Prince John when it extracts taxes from the citizens of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth and leaves a set of emasculated mayors and city administrators who are limited by law to do no more than to come before the legislature, hat-in-hand, to plead on behalf of their constituents.
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While St. Paul claims to be punishing the governments of these communities by withholding any revenue collected from the citizens, in effect, it is playing the same confiscatory role that John’s collectors executed in collecting taxes from the citizens of Nottingham, realizing, perhaps, that acts of resistance by the citizens will be seen as futile and that the cities have no power nor will to challenge the State’s decisions other than as supplicants.
The issue should be on the agenda of the most progressive of citizens and the most conservative members of the Tea Party who reside in these communities. After all, the State did not propose to eliminate funding to the cities by selectively reducing the taxes of the citizens affected. Rather the State, like Prince John, chooses to appropriate the funds for its own empty coffers and increasing debt. To add to the insult, there is even a sentiment to punish the citizens further by passing legislation which would prohibit the citizens from contributing to their local government through property taxes under the guise that the cities are profligates and that the citizens are unable, themselves, to make this judgment via elections.
When will the citizens say, “Enough!”? When will they rise in serious opposition to this insult on their intelligence and their wallet? When will they color outside the lines, withhold their taxes in protest, and demand that their cities look seriously at secession? Honest protest requires commitment and the potential of confrontation. “Minnesota Nice” will not halt this moral and fiscal outrage and violation of the responsibilities to the body politic.