Which is it gonna be, highways or cake?

  I failed to pay as much attention as I should have when a lot of the material about the history of Europe was being covered, so I have less than a working knowledge of the events of over there that ultimately influenced things over here. As a result of that inattention in school, as I research or try to make comparisons of today’s events with things that have happened before, I find myself covering some high school and college work I vaguely remember.

     As I considered the message intended by the editorial appearing on this page, my mind kept going back to something I had heard or read relating to the French Revolution. As I felt the offense of having our self-anointed  betters, once again, propose dipping into the public trough for yet another profitable venture at the taxpayer’s expense, the phrase, “Let them eat cake,” kept coming to mind.

     As those of you who did pay attention in World History class, you will remember that the French Queen consort of Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, was reported to have uttered those words when she was told that the poor people of France had no bread to eat. My parallel is one of arrogance and disregard for those for whom one believes is of inferior breeding or birth or wealth.

     In those days, French law required bakers to sell bread loaves at fixed prices and fancy loaves had to be sold at the same price as basic breads. The idea was to keep bakers from selling only the more profitable expensive loaves. The cake, however, made of flour, butter and eggs was not covered under this law and was unaffordable to the poor. It is the conventional interpretation of her remarks that she meant to say that she could not care less about what the poor might eat.

     Apparently, the remark found its way into the mystique of Marie-Antoinette and did not endear her to the revolutionaries of the time and she was guillotined to death in 1793 for treason. Kind of a sobering result of not watching what you say or, at least, taking care who hears you say it.

     But, my how times have changed. Through the difficulties of a depression, this nation pulled itself up and put together the greatest economy on the face of the planet. Now, we must do it again, but we must do so, eyes wide open, without preferences for those who seem to always receive preference and then, and only then, will we be able to reestablish our great economy, and keep it protected against those who would use it for personal profit and gain at the expense of everyone else.

     Without half-trying we have already flushed out some pretty slick characters who have been getting filthy rich fleecing those who consider themselves too rich and intelligent to be fleeced, along with some charities operated by those who considered themselves to be too rich and intelligent to be fleeced.

     Most of these people on the national scene are those who traditionally get rich during military conflicts and get even richer as the domestic economy goes in the tank. However, for many of those, not all, this time, they got trimmed a bit and they are responding by figuring out the angles of cashing in on the promised bailout for their own personal gain. Even right here in Mississippi.

     No, we have not seen the last of those who have profited during the past decade, nor are we apt to be rid of them anytime soon. They are the backers of plans like starting an “infrastructure bank” in which they will deposit your tax money to the tune of: $100 million per year from the dedicated revenue (tax dollars) of the 1987 Highway Program; $64 million from the existing fuel tax; $77 million on beer at 10 cents per can to divert some “new” revenue into the bank; $54 million from increasing the highway truck and bus privilege tax which is based on weight and age of vehicles over 10,000 pounds; $127 million from adding a 2 percent sales tax to the existing 18-cent fuel tax; $81 million from increasing the tobacco tax by 70 cents per pack and sending 35 cents per pack to the “infrastructure bank:” $18.7 million by raising smokeless tobacco taxed by almost 4 times to be the same as the cigarette tax and send half of it to help fill the vault at the “infrastructure bank;” and finally, but not any more digestible, $102 million from suspending the set aside for the State’s rainy-day fund and putting it into the “infrastructure bank” for one year.

     If you will seriously study these proposals and ask the question, “What will happen to us if we do these things?” and/or “What will we really gain by the urgency of this project and by allowing private agencies with private boards of directors to use our money at will and without our consent?” 

    Suddenly, MDOT and the state legislature both seem to be in the way and not considered capable of performing the duties the voters either elected of the state employed them to do, at least not when there is money available for the taking. It’s the taxpayers’ money they are the ones who need to speak up and block this quasi-governmental, non-profit organization money grab. Otherwise, we’ll just have to acquire an appetite for cake.

About Chris Elkins

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