Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't Coerce Your Neighbor, Just Support Your Cause

HARBESON: You can put your money where your vote is

By DEBBIE HARBESON Local Columnist

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — This column is for all the yes men (and women) out there — those residing in the Clarksville Community School Corp. boundaries who voted yes on the recent referendum intended to increase the tax base for the school system.

You listened when officials said they didn’t have enough money and the problem could not be fixed by lowering expenses. You realized, as they do, that although many people continue to refer to government-funded education as free, it’s really not. You accepted that when a government-funded service needs more money, it must come from productive members of the community.

So, after the administrators came up with their plan, you sat down, looked over your budget, calculated the additional costs based on your property valuation, considered your goals and decided it was worth it. You went to the polls and voted yes.

But the referendum failed. Naturally, you were disappointed and perhaps even irritated at those who voted no. You felt like that was the end of it.

But it’s not. The referendum is only the end of it for those who did not want to be coerced into paying more. You, however, can still do what you wanted to do.

See, the vote had absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you pay an additional amount to the school system. In reality, your vote only allowed you to say that you condoned the coercion of your neighbor paying more as well, whether he wanted to or not.

That’s all your yes vote would really have accomplished because you can still do what you said you wanted to do and contribute more money to the cause. The failed referendum changes nothing for you as an individual. You are still free to pay more into the system. No one will stop you. As a yes man (or woman), you remain free to do what you decided you were willing to do.

And speaking of freedom, the referendum result also set free those who do not consent to an increase. Fortunately, they are now able to use their money that would have been coerced from them in any way they decide is worth it, based on their individual goals and values.

So go ahead, follow through on your decision. No one will stop you from doing what you think is right, so pay the amount equal to an additional 24 cents per $100 of assessed valuation on your property. You may even be willing to pay more than that and again, you are free to do so.

In addition, if you are part of the special interest group that receives the 65 and older property tax deduction, then consider adding that amount on top of your 24 cents per $100 assessed valuation to your funds as well. I’m sure everyone in the system would appreciate this additional voluntary gesture.

You will benefit by giving your money this way because you avoid much of the bureaucracy and additional costs that occur when your funds travel through the tax system. You’ll have more power to direct the money to areas you decide are most valuable. You are even free to pool your money with others and put it to work in ways you deem worthy.

Best of all, taking this individual action leaves everyone with a better feeling than dragging in others without their consent. They are left alone and you get to pay the additional amount as you said you would. Each individual is respected.

Remember, you don’t need to vote or get anyone’s permission when you want to support a cause you believe in.

Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson has always been a yes-woman. Especially when someone else is paying the bill.


  1. Great post, Debbie.

    This approach should apply to foreign aid and foreign military causes as well, in my opinion, although I think the government does claim the right to require its permission before supporting these causes privately.