Political Chowder Ingredients: Facts, Events, Policy, Politicians, Journalists, and YOU
Political Chowder Ingredients:
Facts, Events, Policy, Politicians, Journalists, and YOU

This Week's "You"
Jan. 18, 2009
Letter for the Concord Monitor

Shared responsibility

January 14, 2009 - 12:00 am

I would like to commend Peter Imse for his thoughtful, articulate and courageous article opposing tax breaks for special interest groups, even when those groups are valued members of society such as over-55 living communities ("Older residents, selfish behavior," )

If the 20th century is going to be remembered as the century of unregulated self-interest, let's let the 21st century be remembered as the century of shared community responsibility. If you missed Peter's article, it is available at concordmonitor.com.


Article published on January 11, 2009

Board of Contributors

Older residents, selfish behavior
Tax break proposals should be rejected

By PETER IMSE For the Monitor

January 11, 2009

Recent news articles have described the efforts by members of over-55 living communities to obtain real estate tax breaks in New Hampshire. They justify themselves by arguing that they do not make the same demands on municipal services as others. These proposals illustrate a disturbing trend in which more and more governmental policies exhibit a selfishness directly at odds with the world's best political and moral traditions.

Societies exist because we can accomplish far more as a group than as individuals. Pooling our talents and resources for the common good necessarily means that those who have more will contribute to help those who have less. The last century of U.S. history - whether we are talking about employment and labor laws for workers, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for the elderly and the poor... - includes many examples of a society functioning at its best.

The social and political trends in the United States during recent decades show an alarming change of course. We are cutting funding for social welfare programs despite a growing population in need of services. .. We are against "earmarks" in the federal budget, unless, of course, the earmarks are for projects in our own state. We support our children's right to a quality education, but only to the extent that our education dollars are spent in our community.

In a similar vein, the tax relief advocates for the over-55 communities argue that they should not have to pay taxes for services, such as schools, that they do not use. They fail to recognize that their communities would not even exist were it not for governmental initiatives dating back to the 1950s that were adopted to protect and care for the elderly. These initiatives included the legalized age-discrimination that makes over-55 communities possible in the first place. Indeed, despite the good intentions of the policymakers who made these communities possible, the homogeneity and isolation of these communities fosters and encourages the "us vs. them" attitudes that lead to the present tax proposals.

The tax relief advocates fail to see that the cities and towns in which they live are "good" communities precisely because our predecessors invested in the communities as a whole. They fail to recognize that business owners have subsidized the services that have been provided to residential landowners and families for decades. They fail to acknowledge that they were educated with the tax dollars of other taxpayers without children. They fail to see that, if their ideas were carried to their logical conclusion, the massive costs of the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs would be allocated to and shouldered by the sick and the elderly who live in their communities.

The proposals for tax relief for over-55 communities should be rejected wherever they are raised. It is time that we reverse this trend toward policies that reinforce the "I've got mine, and I'm not sharing it" mentality and replace them with community-based approaches to the resolution of our problems...

(Peter Imse of Bow is a lawyer with Sulloway & Hollis in Concord.)
This article is: 4 days old.

"Snob Zoning"?
By Anonymous on Wed, 01/14/2009 - 14:34

Mr. Imse is a resident of Bow where the astronomical school costs are approaching 70% of the total tax "bite". The schools have continued to increase spending and staffing despite a steadily-declining student population. Meanwhile, the town has closed its transfer station, extinguished street lighting, and deferred road maintenance in an attempt to squeeze by.

The ever-increasing taxes have driven out the majority of lower income and elderly residents. Mr. Imse has always been a leading school board cheer leader in the quest for some sort of academia Disney World. Of course he would favor getting blood out of a turnip if he could to support the schools. The elderly have paid taxes all their lives. What's wrong with tax breaks or caps for senior citizens?



YOU read this week by Arnie Arnesen