That's the title of a recent post over at Divemedic's place.
Sumter County Florida contains a large community called “The Villages.” The entire community is being built by a family owned company. They are planning to build 60,000 homes in the next 20 years. The cost for the infrastructure needed for this community is being left to the taxpayers of the county.
To cover these expenses, Sumter county passed a 25% increase in property taxes in 2019. The Villages managed this by getting several of their employees elected to the county commission. The developer claims that they are paying their share by building parks and golf courses- “amenities.” What they fail to say is that the amenities are only permitted to the people who live in the Villages and pay amenities fees. The fire stations, deputies, road maintenance, and other required public infrastructure is left to the tax payer.
If a developer builds a house in The Villages, or any other retirement community in Sumter County, the impact fee to help pay for roads is $972. If a developer builds the exact same house outside The Villages, the impact fee nearly triples to $2,666. That deal is thanks to the three commissioners that were on the board until the last election.
Voters were incensed, and replaced three of them in the 2020 election. The new commissioners passed a bill to roll back the tax, and make impact fees the same throughout the county.
That was defeated when the state of Florida passed a law limiting impact fees. The Representative who sponsored the impact fee limit? He is an employee of The Villages with a $350K a year salary. The number one contributor to his election campaign? His employer, the Holding Company of the Villages, Inc.
There's more at the link.
The trouble is, this is just a microcosm of the institutionalized corruption in Washington D.C. on the federal level, and in every state capital on the regional level. American democracy has far too often devolved into a swamp, where corporate and organized special interests dominate proceedings, and where they ensure that the legislation they want, in their interests, is passed irrespective of whether it's a good thing for everybody else.
How can we clean up Washington D.C. when we can't even rouse enough indignation to clean out the Augean stables of local and regional politics? Is that what those who stole last November's election are counting on, to let them get away with their crimes?
Perhaps the late, great H. L. Mencken was right in his pithy comments about government and democracy.
- Democracy is only a dream: it should be put in the same category as Arcadia, Santa Claus, and Heaven.
- Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction in stolen goods.
- Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.
- A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.
- Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
- It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.
I imagine many of us can agree with Mr. Mencken's sentiments.