Cumberland Times-News

Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything

June 9, 2012

Is this the tree on which money grows?

During a bus trip with the Mountainside Marine Detachment to the air and space museum near Washington, we stopped in Hagerstown to eat breakfast.

When we got back on the bus, I called out to my friends:

“I found it! I found the place where Obama and O’Malley think money grows!” (Some people call them “Owe-bama” and “Owe-Malley.” Others seem to think they can tax and spend us into prosperity.)

There was a chorus of “Where? Where is it?”

I told them, “Over there where that big green sign says ‘Dollar Tree’!”

Judging from their reaction, they were all taxpayers.

The newspaper recently received a letter to the editor from a woman who gave her address as Handover, Md. Further review indicated she was referring to Hanover, Md.

It’s too bad there is no Handover, Md. A city with that name would be the perfect location for Maryland’s state capital because that’s what Maryland’s state government expects its citizens to do — Handover their money.

An e-mail that went around recently shows Gov. Martin O’Malley’s smiling face with the caption, “Welcome To Maryland! What’s In Your Wallet?” (Wouldn’t you love to see a commercial in which the Vikings are frolicking in the state capitol building’s legislative chambers? They couldn’t possibly wreak more havoc than some of the people who are paid to be there.)

I can laugh about this because I moved from Maryland to West Virginia several years ago, after my father died, to live in the house where I grew up. It’s paid for, it’s comfortable, and it’s not in Cumberland — where my property taxes might be three times what they are in Keyser (depending on the neighborhood).

Upon moving to West Virginia, I got an immediate raise of $22 a week in the form of lower state income tax withholding. I can buy a lot of gasoline for $22 a week (although not nearly as much as I could in 2005).

All that said, West Virginia is by no means a place where you can go to be safe from taxes. West Virginia has taxes lurking in places no furriner would suspect.

West Virginians pay a personal property tax of $25 a year for each dog they own. So far as I know, cats are not subject to personal property taxes, at least not in Mineral County (where I live).

Cars, motorcycles and four-wheelers also are subject to personal property taxes, the amount depending upon the book value. You know the tax you pay when you buy and title your car? In Maryland, you pay it once. In West Virginia, you basically pay it every year.

Marylanders do not pay personal property taxes on their personal vehicles. This is why, when some Marylanders move to West Virginia to escape Maryland’s taxes, they keep their cars registered in Maryland in an attempt to avoid West Virginia’s taxes.

That’s risky. Some West Virginia counties (including Mineral) reward folks for ratting out people who move to the state, but don’t transfer their tags. Frankly, I can’t blame anyone for snitching. If I’m going to have to pay the personal property tax, so should everybody else.

My car is 10 years old. If I had a newer car, it’s conceivable that I would pay more taxes on it than I do on my house. (That said, the state will give me a substantial property tax break on my house when I turn 65.)

In Maryland, you have a car inspected when you buy it. In West Virginia, you have it inspected every year — for a fee.

West Virginia municipalities levy a business and occupation tax upon the businesses that are located within their borders — the so-called B&O Tax. (When I was younger, I thought this was a tax on the railroad.) It’s substantial enough to make some people set up shop outside the city limits.

Where Maryland taxes big chunks out of your hide, West Virginia nickels-and-dimes you to death — as the old saying goes.

Here is what I do not understand:

West Virginia is one of the poorest states in America. Maryland is one of the richest states in America. Both houses of the legislature in both states are controlled by Democrats (a situation that’s never likely to change), and they usually have a Democrat in the governor’s office.

However ... although it may take considerable ingenuity, West Virginia generally finds a way to live within its means and balance its budget.

Maryland does not — or at least it hasn’t since Owe-Malley took over. He inherited a surplus; what happened to it depends entirely upon whether you are a Republican or a Democrat.

The whining, tantrums, threats, warnings of Apocalypse and finger-pointing associated with the Maryland General Assembly’s recent avoidance of the Doomsday Budget were fascinating to observe.

On the other hand, what these fiscal shenanigans are doing to Maryland’s local and county governments and their citizens (particularly in this largely ignored end of the state) is horrifying.

The process reminds me of the time a friend asked me to keep her company on the day she had her beloved old dog put to sleep:

It was heartwrenching to watch and left me with a vague feeling of injustice that I still can’t quite get a handle on. Worst of all, there was nothing I could do to make it any better.

Unfortunately, we now live in an age in which our legislators seem to be elected not for their ability to lead or govern, but on the basis of what they give us.

I’d rather live in an age in which we tell them how much of our money we’re willing to trust them with ... and they’d better use it wisely, or we’ll find somebody who can.

But no — and for that we ultimately have nobody to blame but ourselves.

1
Text Only
Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything
  • He means well, and this time they spared his life

    Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.

    July 20, 2014

  • They’d have fallen like Autumn leaves

    So there we were, minding our own business (at least momentarily), leaning against the cannon at Little Round Top.

    July 13, 2014

  • Better read that french fry before you eat it

    People give me otherwise-insignificant items they hope will amuse or inspire me. I appreciate this. I’m always glad for free entertainment, which as Goldy’s Rule 33 says is everywhere. All you have to do is wait and it will come to you. Also, I have been writing columns for 37 years and embrace inspiration anywhere I can find it.

    July 6, 2014

  • The moose is loose, and it’s coming for you

    So how would you like to look out your kitchen door window onto your porch and see a moose looking back at you from close range?

    June 28, 2014

  • There are some debts you can never repay

    Today’s column will be relatively short, as my columns go, for reasons that should become apparent, and I thought long and hard before writing it.

    June 21, 2014

  • It could have saved the county a lot of money

    Random thoughts sometimes occur to me when I least expect it, usually when my brain has become tired.
    When I voice these thoughts at work or in other places, people may tell me, “Goldy? It’s time for you to go home.” Yes, ma’am.
    Here are two random thoughts of recent vintage:
    • If Bugs Bunny were an Emergency Medical Technician, would that make him a MedicHare?
    • If Daisy Duck got a job driving for United Parcel Service, would she be an UPS-a-Daisy?
    I wouldn’t blame you if you think that sounds Goofy — or Daffy.

    June 15, 2014

  • These two were part of the Not Top Ten

    Occasionally, at this time of year, I see reference to a “class orator” or a “class speaker.”

    Nothing wrong with that — people can call such things whatever they want, as far as I’m concerned — but it makes me wonder. Have “valedictorian” and “salutatorian” become politically incorrect, and I didn’t notice? It may come as a surprise to you, but I really have not kept up with what is politically correct or incorrect. That’s what people tell me, anyway. With some of them, it actually seems to be a compliment.

    June 8, 2014

  • Coming soon to a highway near you?

    People say to me, “Goldy? Can I ask you a stupid question?”

    In theory — and theory only — the correct response is: “The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.” Not so much. There ARE stupid questions, some of them so stupid that to call them stupid is to damn them with faint praise. Other questions are — on the face of it — legitimate questions, but shouldn’t be treated as such ... not if you subscribe to the same philosophy that I do: Free entertainment is everywhere; all you have to do is wait, and it will come to you.

    June 1, 2014

  • This was a skill that proved very useful

    The Belmont Park stewards have decided to let California Chrome wear his nasal strip during the Run for the Carnations. Nasal strips usually are worn by people who snore and may have saved numerous marriages. It helps the Triple Crown hopeful to breathe, and some twolegged athletes wear nasal strips for the same reason. In this case, Chrome’s nasal strip may keep him from (wait for it) ... losing by a nose.

    May 25, 2014

  • He made a big splash by asking this question

    “I don’t know who you were talking to last night,” said Capt. Gary, “but you were talking and moaning in your sleep. Never heard you do that before.” Neither has anyone else, I said. Besides, I had told him not to be surprised if we had visitors. I wasn’t at the top of my game for a couple of days, and he said some of our friends asked him if I was all right. It’s not the first time for this, so now I’ll know to watch out for it. It can affect you and is not something to play around with — as our friend Cathy found out.

    May 18, 2014

Latest news
Facebook
Must Read
House Ads