Friday, September 29, 2006

Greg Kelver, Libertarian Small Business Owner, On Government Economic Redistribution Plans

Greg Kelver, Libertarian candidate for Indiana House district 20 and a small business owner, addresses the current system in Indiana in which political elites pick winners in the so-called economic development game played by government (mostly run in Indiana by the big government Republican party):

"Re: LPAC Candidate Questionnaire on Economic Development Issues
September 28, 2006

Thank you for your inquiry. Although I don’t favor “strong government leadership” that is activist in nature, as a small business owner, I am a strong advocate for free enterprise and returning to a structure of limited government that I believe would be favorable to long term economic development and business growth in Indiana.

In a socialist country, the role of government in economic development is pretty easy to determine - property and means of production are controlled by the state or collective ownership. In a country that has a foundation based on economic capitalism, decentralized private property ownership and free market economics are the tools that drive economic development rather than government. Philosophically, I do not believe that government creates real economic development. It can hinder, it can restrict, it can redistribute, but it simply cannot “create” economic development. Real economic development is done by the risk-taking women and men who start private businesses and those who labor with them to produce something that has market value to others. In my opinion, the proper role of government should be to protect the rights of individuals and the businesses they create - it should not be trying to pick the winners and losers in a high stakes game of redistribution roulette. Limited, constitutional government should create an environment that is uniformly favorable to private economic development with minimal taxation, minimal regulation, and well defined protection of individual rights and freedoms. I do not believe government should attempt economic development on either a regional or a local basis where it may redistribute wealth to preferred corporations or politically connected individuals at the expense of local small business or other private property owners.

The property tax system should be restructured into a flat land and structures tax uniformly based on square footage rather than a bogus system that tries to artificially assign a “market value” to improved property.. I believe that type of restructuring could eliminate the need for “Tax Abatement” and would fairly level the tax burden among businesses and individuals instead of favoring the politically connected. Small businesses should not have to be dependent on the whims of a politically driven board to make a business investment decision. The hoops that B& B Manufacturing had to jump through with the LaPorte City Council is a prime example of one problem with “tax abatement.” Business investment should not require council approval and I think that a flat land and structures tax would eliminate the need for “tax abatement.” Infrastructure costs (water, sewer, access roads) for specific property sites should be borne by the private developers and not shifted onto the backs of small business or individuals who will not benefit from the development or who may be adamantly opposed to a particular development. A properly restructured property tax system could eliminate the need for TIF districts to pay for infrastructure improvements and let improvements be cooperatively financed by the users of those improvements.

Workforce development programs should be handled by private companies. Private business should invest in training it’s own workers and no small business should ever have to write out a check to the Worker’s Training Fund to help BP and other large corporations train their employees.

Gas and electric rates do not need a government solution. Free market incentives to reducing demand for gas and electric can effectively lower the price of utilities if government stopped protecting the monopoly status of NIPSCO and competition was increased. For example, one local business owner reduced the heating costs for a large manufacturing plant by about 80% with a payback of less than one year. Econ 101 gives a pretty clear picture of what should happen to price if demand was reduced by that amount on a widespread level. I favor repealing all sales tax on electricity, natural gas and all other fuels used for heating or transportation.

Much of the local property tax burden stems from education funding and does not go toward roads, infrastructure, police or firefighters. While I am a strong believer in the advantages of local government over state or federal, giving local politicians the ability to extract higher taxes from new sources is not about “Local Home Rule”. Forcing small local business and individuals to pay higher taxes will not help economic development. But higher taxes will put local small business at a competitive disadvantage and could cause some to go out of business or relocate to a lower taxing area. We do not need more local taxes to be charged on income, sales, food beverages, or hotels - we just need some new people with innovative ideas on how to stop wasting taxpayers’ money.

Greg Kelver Libertarian Candidate for State Representative - District 20 "

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