Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Passed Gas Tax - more Goat Hill flatulence…

 

Gov. Ivey and our Goat Hill legislators ‘passed the gas’ tax to fuel a more over-built/unsustainable road system in Alabama. Pray for our posterity and those of limited means weathering the next contraction after our current bubble pops. No doubt our low class, high end political prostitutes will prosper as usual. Montgomery has not generated such loud, foul flatulence since all the Republocrat rhetoric following the 14% special election turnout result (49 days before a general election) to rob $437 million from our ETF. That 2012 sham result was at least determined by an election the politburo members could spin as, “a great show of support from the people.” Of course they wouldn’t let the people decide a few weeks later in a general election where greater participation orecasted an outcome which would block these political thieves, any more than they’d put this gas tax vote on the next Statewide general

election ballot.

The current dynamic deployed from Hubbard’s “Stealing the Statehouse” playbook was passing gas taxes immediately after the 2018 election expecting most voters will forget their foul ‘tulip lies’ and smell by the next quadrennial election cycle. Sen. Marsh won my ‘Flatulence Award’ on this trip down the Mike Hubbard Boulevard to perdition, in what some have called a shameless effort to bolster Statewide name recognition before formally declaring his run for US Senate. Marsh said everyone changed their minds once he informed them… not that his misinformation campaign was required to accomplish this pre-meditated public theft. Don’t expect productive citizens to applaud one’s ability and lack of scruples to steal candy from a baby as some sort of ‘artful dodger’ event. Marsh asserted fuel efficient cars and hybrid electrics as the problem, not paying enough in fuel taxes unchanged these past decades. Of course improved technology, economies of scale etc. would bring down the price and increase durability of roads if not for the BCA, Riley Inc. et al political theft machines in our State. In fact, lighter and higher MPG (responding to the overbuilt/subsidized roads) cars are NOT what’s beating up the roads. Overloaded trucks, heavy buses, etc. ARE.

It is reported 25% of the passed gas tax revenue will go to counties. In Lee County (epicenter of corrupt administrators, board members, commissioners, et al) it will simply enable more malfeasance and cancerous growth. The ‘gentlemen agreement’ to not pay for timber loads in excess of the 88,000 lb. limit had been effective. Great incentive to NOT overload since it won’t generate any greater payment for the timber. As morals and decency decayed these past years, inferior gentlemen displayed how cheaply souls are sold for ill-gotten gains; the incidence of overloaded trucks increased. Economists (esp. traditional libertarians) champion user fees. In short, those who are doing the damage and generating the increased costs pay to build/maintain/repair the damage done instead of being subsidized by others. For example with this tax, those often least able to bear the tax burden disproportionately pay the recently passed gas tax increase. Gas (like alcohol, beer, cigs. etc.) has a more inelastic (i.e., less responsive) demand curve so producers do not lobby against it… easiest to simply pass most of it onto consumers.

As an aside, taxes on clothing, food, etc. with more elastic demand curves/competitive markets make it more difficult to pass taxes onto consumers - esp. lowest income consumers who more often aren’t directly purchasing food via SNAP/EBT payments. When an incompetent or corrupt ‘public servant’ (doesn’t matter, the result is the same) champions removing taxes on these items (doesn’t matter if for campaign contributions or to pander for votes) one expects to see “Judas rhetoric” in overdrive; assert caring for the poor to cloak the avarice of those lobbying to avoid paying taxes they’ll mostly bear. Does any rational person think if Sen. Dial’s (or any other corrupt public servant who takes up his rhetoric for campaign contributions and/or pandering) plan to remove the 4% State sales tax on groceries is passed, consumer grocery bills will in fact decrease 4%? They will go down a little, but I assure readers the suppliers lobbying to remove the tax are NOT doing so to give the portion of the tax they pay to consumers instead of to the Alabama Dept. of Revenue. If I get enough reader interest in this I’ll devote a future column to who bears a tax (consumers v. producers) and the “Calculus of Consent” in economics.

If represented by decent, intelligent public servants on Goat Hill the special session would’ve taken the time to address this issue of user fees and enforcement. As righteous gentlemen attenuate in my (and I suspect many other) county, it is time for my legislature to address the problem to reduce the theft/wealth transfer to misusers. With this great body assembled in Montgomery, using extra time/taxpayer funding to meet in special session, they could’ve crafted and passed legislation to discipline over-loaders and other destroyers of roads in our State. Some say portable scale enforcement of overloaded trucks was chilled many years ago by judges who would throw out fines and penalties for spurious reasons, lack of certifications, etc. Well it is a new day with new technology and hopefully less corrupt judges, which I understand is currently more important as our undisciplined ethics commission has aided and abetted our State politburo members running wild.

Unenforced over-loaders respond as expected - if paid for overloads, you’ll observe more of them. I asked my legislators (who of course don’t care as much for my limited support over the ACCA, BCA, timber lobby, etc.) to promote heavily fines on any load payment in excess of 88,000 lbs. and audit (where indicated) purchasers of loads who appear to be falsifying/ gaming bills of lading and other efforts which shift, hide, underreport to avoid overuse fees/fines.

Because of little to no enforcement of overloads on non-Interstate and major State highways, overloaded trucks rationally divert to bridges and roads less safe and designed to accommodate the abuse exacerbating the problem. Furthermore, I asked for some rational discussion to allow smaller buses for lower weights and shorter routes so students do not spend as much of their time traveling to schools. I didn’t buy the ACCA, BCA, et alia rhetoric espoused most flatulently by Sen. Marsh about great concern for our children and their future when payoffs from Riley, Inc. asphalt special interest, bridge builders, pulp producers, road engineers, etc. are in play.

My county administrator and corrupt highway engineer (not bonded as per law in my corrupt county until pointed out to AG Brandon Hughes) have shilled for an additional 3 cent/gal. gas tax since 2017, threatening to rip up roads they currently fail to properly maintain nor followed the law and county access management policies when initially built. The politburo (more interested in transferring wealth to crony contractors, developers and input suppliers than for the safety of the traveling public) have long wanted to be prepared when big govt. Democrat Trump (now under the Republican moniker) further champions his big govt. bent and displays poor business acumen w.r.t. understanding debt as he promotes yet another FDR type explosion of spending. Recipients of the expected largess want no impediments to these transfers when Trump gets his way - i.e., don’t want legislators struggling to find matching money.

Even Senator ‘cash register’ Shelby wanted to get his cut from this easy steal of candy from Alabama babies and their posterity. I’ve not witnessed political theft from a US Senator in my State since observing Sen. Mikulski back in Maryland - another ‘public servant’ who started out strong for civil rights, curbing eminent domain abuse, etc. to morph into an integral part of ‘out republicaning’ the Republicans to become solid blue from militant red with the rest of the States above the Mason-Dixon line. As I grow older, I give increasingly more thanks to God who must judge ‘public servants’ I’ve tried to discipline and educate. Sadly, our State will continue to suffer appropriation distortions to further reduce quality of life for the general welfare of Alabama to redistribute wealth to special interests. By the time ‘cash register’ Shelby is gone and we may return to the reduced harm of only the tax extraction without the added distortion of deleterious pork spending (facilitating more cancerous growth) it’ll be too late. This ‘corporate welfare’ cancer has the ongoing price tag of continuing to maintain and repair the unsustainable infrastructure which we would not be saddled with except for Shelby’s pork-barrel efforts and “care for our children.” Perhaps if old ‘cash register’ understood his oath of office, port construction/maintenance to keep commerce regular (via a uniform tariff, another ‘user fee’ example) is one of the few things the federal govt. is actually authorised to address. Our State has no reason to disproportionately bear the burden of this, but I don’t expect those of Senators Mikulski, Shelby, et alia intelligence and integrity to hold to their oaths of office.

Back to the more local reality - why send additional tens of millions in ATRIP (III?) dollars to a county which holds a special election to pass a tax for parks & recreation (clearly not wanted by the more representative general election voters) instead of improving their roads? Worse still, County Access Management Policies and Subdivision Regulations prescribe one thing, but County officials spend my tax dollars to circumvent the law/policies. Little surprise soon thereafter these corrupt public servants then complain for more money after NOT following the law to use monies provided by those generating the increased use/demand.

When the County obtains a developer’s performance bond to guarantee improvements on a road, the policy triggers a listing of the improvements and estimate; neither were required by my County officials. The Engineer is required to certify compliance with this County policy - he did not. Before connecting, it is required to comply with ALDOT’s “County Road Design” -- it was not. When exceeding 100 VPD (Vehicles Per Day) improvements are required; no improvements were made. The unlawful Engineer (not bonded as required) used his ‘discretion’ to redirect my tax dollars to impose his own flawed traffic study. The Engineer’s discretion (commissioners very publicly stand behind) conveniently forecasts just below VPD requirements to release bonds so developers do not pay for the increased demand/use they put on county infrastructure where every actual VPD count revealed how poor this public servant’s discretion has been. Now this corrupt County commission claims they don’t have the money and must address higher priorities. Well, they HAD money. They instead subsidize developers spreading this unsustainable cancer in my county to now beggar money from Goat Hill to further cover-up their corruption, incompetence and systematically harming those (mostly poor rural motorists and black churches in the County) least able fight this cancer and corruption.

Issues of wrongful railroad crossing closures, using County resources to clear and grub for corrupt mayors, interesting “windfalls” from Highway Department auctions, etc. speak volumes to further illustrate the corruption this passed gas tax enables. Just as enforcing weight restrictions and a more rational school bus policy, perhaps Goat Hill would be better served to ensure laws are followed and incompetent/unlawful ‘public servants’ of this sort (like this un-bonded engineer) indeed vacate their office as prescribed, fines paid, etc. instead of again throwing more money to subsidize even more harm.

Alabama Legislative Watchdogs [ALW] cited the most outrageous ‘flatulence’ came from Governor ‘Poison Ivy’ as follows. “All the freshmen who ran for House and Senate were indeed briefed on the need for an infrastructure bill well before they were elected,” Ivey said, “And they were vetted by the House and Senate leadership, and if they were not for increasing the gas tax for infrastructure, they were not encouraged to run.” In short, this means the Felon Hubbard/BCA machine is running wild again with no fear given our flaccid ‘ethics commission’ and corrupt AG Marshall -- who’s in no position to make a stand given his ethics violations as the top law enforcement ‘public servant’ in our State. Watchdogs provided data to support this. Public servant Jimmy Rane (Mr. Yella Fella on AU’s BoT) Alabama Power and Business Council of Alabama spent about half a million dollars - i.e., the usual unindicted coconspirators who backed the Boob and Felon Hubbard show. To further illustrate the methane to fuel the overwhelming result, ALW also posted from the Secretary of State’s website $414,000 from specifically interested infrastructure companies, not including all the PAC contributions linked to the road building industry.

In closing, the 2019 ‘passed gas tax legislature’ must be remembered if Alabamians want to discipline special session abuse flatulence of this sort further sapping productive citizens - esp. those least able to weather the increased extraction to subsidize special interests enumerated above. I let my State Senator know my thoughts and what I wanted him to advocate as a solution. He genuinely seems to think this will help his constituents over special interests - we’ll see… if it continues to harm my quality of life as it has in the past (or the quality of those I hold dear), it will be time to end my support. I’m willing to give a little more deference to my ‘rookie’ State Rep. dealing with the tornado devastation largely in his district. Tough way to start his tenure, but he’s risen to the task. Don’t think he knows how we (me and my fellow Lee Co. Commission witness) were working with Rep. Bandy on the harm done to rural motorists and black churches these past years. He’ll have to decide in the coming years if he’s going to promote the general welfare or continue to be influenced by Felon Hubbard minions (like Rep. Pebblin Warren who voted YES) who went so far as supporting the Speaker’s corruption by aiding in jury selection in the Lee County Circuit which convicted him. I hope others keep Representative Gray in prayer to not cast his lot with those who’ve shown themselves unfit to follow.

Postscript: many thanks to all who expressed concern about me and my bride in Beauregard. Our property was completely unscathed. Although frustrating at times trying to help others (esp. impeded at times for the Ivey, Jones, Shelby, Trump, et al. photo tour) wished I were completely retired to do more these past days. Most sobering was attending the funeral for a beautiful ten year old girl - daughter to a fellow teller my bride worked beside for many years. The most indelible memory in my ‘mind’s eye’ is watching the largest collection of vultures I’ve ever witnessed circling just to the South of us hardest hit. Undoubtedly no shortage of carrion… of course our mailbox shown predators and vultures of another sort in the inordinate amount of life insurance solicitations and other scams wanting to take advantage of another vulnerable moment.

Alabama House no votes on gas tax

District 3 - Andrew Sorrell, R

District 9 -Scott Stadthagen, R

District 12 - Corey Harbison, R

District 15 - Allen Farley, R

District 18 - Jamie Kiel, R

District 22 - Ritchie Whorton, R

District 23 - James "Tommy" Hanes, Jr., R

District 31 - Mike Holmes, R

District 33 - Ronald Johnson, R

District 34 - David Standridge, R

District 37 - Bob Fincher, R

District 43 - Arnold Mooney, R

District 47 - David Wheeler, R

District 48 - Jim Carns, R

District 49 - April Weaver, R

District 51 - Allen Treadaway, R

District 52 - John Rogers, D

District 59 - Mary Moore, D

District 73 - Matt Fridy, R

District 87 - Jeff Sorrells, R

District 88 - Will Dismukes, R

Alabama Senate no votes on gas tax

District 6 - Larry Stutts, R

District 11 - Jim McClendon, R

District 15 - Dan Roberts, R

District 17 - Shay Shelnutt, R

District 25 - Will Barfoot, R

District 33 Vivian Figures, D

 

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