Lance Armstrong. Manti Te'o. Athletes who won; but it was enhanced by their story. A cancer survivor wins 7 international athletic competitions. A young man moved to return to college and pursue a national championship because of the inspiration from the death of his grandmother and girlfriend. Our hearts were moved. The stories were "feel good".
Then truth arrived this week. One man cheated. He intimidated anyone who said he was dishonest. The other let his emotions get the better of him and, so far, appears to have fallen for a modern day electronic prank. We feel betrayed. The lesson is clear. Feelings change with new information. It's better to study facts, and have appropriate feelings after making plans based on rational ideas and knowledge. This is what is lacking in most of today's political discussions. Most of the national debates are communicated in emotional terms, with little or no rational basis for success. As an example, gun control. The President proposed laws and several executive orders to give parents a sense of security; but none of it would have prevented the Sandy Hook incident from happening if it existed prior. It feels good, for now.
Nebraska's Governor Heineman offered two proposals ending state income taxes. The more ambitious plan hopes to end income taxes for all citizens, particularly senior citizens who leave for gentler climates and states where taxes on retirement income are low or non-existent. Ending income tax, and an average increase in state spending of 4.9% over the next two years, is achieved through the closure of a laundry list of exemptions that currently exist to various businesses (taxing businesses as they succeed and purchase various supplies and parts) and adding sales taxes to things like college dormitory and hospital room rentals. As an alternative plan, Heineman offered another, less extensive, version which, if adopted, eliminates corporate sales taxes and the income tax to seniors, alone. Regardless, the exemption for sales tax on food will remain (Nebraskans don't pay tax on grocery items, but on prepared or restaurant meals.)
Naturally, the lines are drawn and the discussion beginning. As in any debate over income sources and spending, everyone wants to defend their turf; the loss of this exemption will not work. State universities have been asked to hold tuition fees for the next two years. They see this as contradictory that they lose potential income, but the state draws new revenue from their students. Charities lose the ability to purchase goods without paying sales tax. Naturally, such a radical change to the tax system will draw criticism and discussion. It is ambitious and a departure from the traditional Nebraska structure.
It is also brilliant, in light of recent events in Washington DC. If the federal government raises tax rates on "wealthy" businesses and entrepreneurs, what better pitch to make than come and build in Nebraska, where there is no income tax? Taxes you pay are from business (if enrollment grows at the university, there will be more tuition, and the state receives more tax; as agriculture succeeds, it generates more income and pays more taxes). In other words, successful businesses pay as they grow, not just citizens who rise in income levels. A vigorous debate is in order, but emotional rhetoric only presents more discourse and no movement. Like so many other national discussions. We know feelings about what is or is not important can change so easily.