In response to a blog post and a similar article in the Toledo Free Press about levy fatigue, a friend sent me an email that nicely joined together several factors impacting Toledo.
For background, she refers to several items in the news:
*The Blade published an article lamenting the loss of area executives.
*There was the announcement of low interest loans to encourage those who can't afford to purchase art to do so (see articles here and here).
*COSI is asking for another levy for operational funds - after their request last year failed.
"If we have truly lost the upper middle to upper levels of wealth in this area we are probably finished. These are the people who underwrite art and music and culture to which the less affluent get access usually at no cost. They are the ones who need a place to network to generate the deals that make a city/region work both literally and figuratively.
Without this layer of people we are reduced to asking poor people to go into debt to support art. We have to get excited about the numbers of people in poverty because there is money to hand out rather than jobs. We put the burden of keeping non-profits operational on the backs of low wage earners through levies rather than the fundraising efforts of people who do not have to worry about the price of gas.
I think the loss of labor jobs is regrettable but the previously unnoticed loss of management jobs is far worse because the ripples are farther reaching. When will Toledo/Lucas County get over its hypocritical view of wealth and the wealthy who really are the answer to many of our area's problems?"
And I think that she's raised a very valid point - that we discourage or penalize those who attain wealth. We tax them, we take from them to give to others, we call their companies 'evil corporations,' we criticize them when they spend their own money on themselves, we blame them for excessiveness - especially when it appears that they contribute to 'global warming' ... But you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who'd say they don't want more money than they have right now.
It used to be that the American Dream was to rely upon oneself to achieve whatever goal one set. We used to admire those who achieved wealth by working hard, creating something new or even playing the stock market well.
But today, class envy has become the norm. The normal response to someone who has wealth is to say they got it at someone else's expense. Many politicians and opinion-makers promote the idea of a limited pie - that if someone has wealth, it's because some else doesn't. They look for more ways to 'tax the wealthy' to provide benefits for the 'poor.' And they promise such programs in exchange for votes, relying upon income from those they claim shouldn't have wealth in the first place.
Locally, we subsidize the creation of market rate housing...but many who'd be able to afford such housing are not the ones buying memberships to country clubs, becoming patrons of the arts or sponsoring major initiatives of non-profits. Can you imagine the outcry if local leaders said they were going to subsidize the creation of luxury housing - perhaps in the planned Marina District - in order to attract those with enough disposable income to generously contribute to the economic revitalization of the downtown area?
We say we want a knowledge-based economy, but we demonize those who would lead such an economy. We say we want good jobs, but make it nearly impossible, cost-wise, for job-providers to locate here. And heaven forbid if such job-providers happen to be non-union... We say we want to encourage success, but then tax and criticize those who succeed.
We can't have it both ways - and I'm reminded of the "10 Cannots" by Rev. William J. H. Boetcker, 1916:
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatreds.
* You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
* You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence.
* You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
Would Toledo be better if we had more "wealthy" people? Would our community and economy benefit by such a population? You decide.