Note: Chang-Diaz is the first in a series of candidates we’re welcoming onto LeftAhead as the local election season heats up. If you’re a candidate running for something and want to discuss the issues and the race with people who actually care, send me an email and we’ll book you for one of our upcoming shows. We’re looking forward to hearing (from) you.
Today, we had a very special guest, Sonia Chang-Diaz, on at LeftAhead. Lynne, Mike and I took up all kinds of issues during the podcast and asked Sonia for as many details as possible. Lots of tough questions and issue specifics were asked, and we got some pretty good answers.
Sonia is particularly thoughtful on the core issues facing urban areas such as education and housing; I also found what she had to say about taxes toward the end very refreshing. Lynne was at least slightly concerned about the new debt this state is taking on through the recently-passed (and soon to be signed) transportation bond bills. While Sonia hasn’t made a cost-benefit analysis on the transportation bond bill yet, she also shares some of Lynne’s worries. Here’s a window to Sonia’s soul re: tax philosophy.
I always look with a weary eye on taking on debt. How does our tax policy work? One thing we [at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center] always try to get out there and give people a good grounding on is the theories of fairness that are generally recognized when talking about tax policy… one of the theories is the ‘use principal’ – the idea that the people who use the goods should pay for them. Generally speaking… the use principal is not the fairest… I think it would strike people silly to structure a system that only the people who use a police system should pay for it… if you get mugged, you’re charged a fee… That’s not how the public system should work….
That’s why generally the use principal is not one that should be our guiding principal when talking about taxes. But, the big exception to that … is longterm infrastructural costs – for things like roads, bridges… that are going to be used over multiple generations in a state, where in those cases does it make sense to share costs across time and not just across the population that currently exists as a state.
Pretty nice drapes on that window, huh? If only the Republicans in D.C. got that principal on things like a certain war in a certain part of the world which is being
bought and paid for by people my age (23) and younger, maybe the world would be a better place. Sometimes a bond bill makes sense – and I’ve actually come out in favor of Governor Patrick’s bond bill, because in the long run doing these projects now will save money (and lives) over inflation in the long run. But we need more thinking on Sonia’s line, as a whole, across the state and country. With that, she made for a very nice guest and I’m hoping people will listen.
Crossposted at Ryan’s Take.
Correction: I wrote “that are going to be used over multiple generations in a state, where in no cases does it make sense to share costs across time and not just across the population that currently exists as a state,” when Sonia really said “where in those cases.” My apologies!