Thursday, October 18, 2007
Amusing Contradictions Form an Incoherent Editorial Postion
Iwas under the impression newspapers had editorial meetings to hammer out positions the paper takes in “Viewpoint” pages. That way, there’s consistency among the opinion pieces written by various staff pundits as they go forth to inform and recommend. Apparently, that’s not the case at the Charlotte Sun.
The example today is the on-going news that Florida lawmakers are trying to overhaul the state’s property appraisal system (there’s a special session of the legislature underway). Here’s three editorial opinions from three days, all this week.
On Monday, the house pundit writes: “Property tax reform makes system more complicated but the real solution is simplicity.” (Yes, he wrote it exactly like that.) He/she recommends a two-step solution: (1) assess all property, residential and commercial, at “true market value” and (2) collect taxes on that value.
On Wednesday, the house pundit writes that storm shutters should be exempted from a property's appraised value. Creating an exemption introduces complexity, no? Are 15-year-old shutters valued the same as new ones? Are my hand-crafted, maple-planked, Cape Cod wood and iron-hinged shutters the equivalent of my neighbor’s plywood? I don’t sense simplicity. Anyway, on with the main topic.
Today, the house pundit advocates that lawmakers create “a tax cap on all property.” So, what happened to Sunday’s simplicity: assess and collect?
Today’s editorial confusion deepens. The writer effusively praises a local representative for supporting a committee bill to “cap valuation increases on all property in the state” (but doesn’t bother to inform us if the cap is one percent, five percent, ten percent). Then, three paragraphs later, the Sun Pundit admits, “We are not convinced budgeting by legislative fiat is the best approach.” Sun Pundit thinks a tax cap might stop localities from building jails and such. He/she goes on: “We also feel the proposed measure perpetuates the inequity between those who bought homes years ago and new and future buyers.”
Let’s review – just today we have praise for the guy who votes for a tax cap in committee; we send Bronx cheers to the legislature that might implement the bill because that would budget by fiat, and we send more raspberries for a tax cap because it stems the flow of money localities can collect. And furthermore, a cap will “perpetuate inequity” among tax payers based on when they bought a house. If a tax cap does all these bad things, why does it "makes sense?" He/she doesn't actually say.
I don’t rely on the men of the Dunn-Rankin family (our esteemed publishers) when deciding what to think. And I don't fault them for taking a particular postion on this or any other issue. The crime I'm fighting is writing incoherent and disjointed assertions about a complicated topic that many readers care deeply about. Any freshman-composition class instructor would immediately detect their errors of fact (dealt with in two earlier posts) and amusing contradictions are the root of today's inability to articulate a coherent argument.