On Monday I was offered an opportunity at my business to sign a petition initiated by Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG) to end "tax dodging" and to support "legislation to stop tax haven abuses."
I declined. For starters, I am reluctant to speak for a business which includes people other than myself. But more importantly, I was uncomfortable with the content of the petition, particularly what I would consider loaded language. For example, tax dodging I would think is already illegal. Or the activity they are concerned with is lawful and as such should not be described as "dodging." Nobody pays taxes unless they are legally obligated to do so and, as such, I think it is wrong to denigrate such people. Also, while I suspect I might find some common ground with WISPIRG on tax haven legislation, I am cognizant of the larger fiscal concerns facing our country and I find WISPIRG's goals insufficient to address our larger problems. I would have been more inclined to sign if dramatic government spending reductions were included in their petition, for example. And lastly, I wouldn't want myself as a business owner or my business name to be used in a political showdown.
My instincts it turns out were correct. The Journal Times local section headline read: A solution to the fiscal cliff? Subtitle read: Shutting tax havens would help, says Mayor Dickert, research group. The article included a local businessman angry at "corporations taking money away from us,"a Parkside student who suggested the money could be used for more student aid, and a WISPIRG associate noting that the money could be used to build 50 commuter rail lines.
But no mention of federal spending levels.