OPINION | McHugh David: Want to centralize tax collection? Prove functionality

The phrase ‘I’m here from the government, and I’m here to help,’ was uttered as a partial joke, partial anecdote and scary story for young people to ‘fear their potential overlords.’

That statement has become a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, as two sides battle over the size and function of government. One side, Republicans, believe less government is better, while the Democrats seek to expand government to provide more services and solve social issues.

Regardless of which side is chosen, neither seem to believe in efficiency of government – all that has been born of that battle is a very large, very bureaucratic mess.

It also causes quite a bit of division.

The outcome is an ironic one, to be sure, because both sides have their own claims as to how their method of fixing government can help the people in one, way, shape, or form and yet – rarely – does that ever happen.

There are successes, sure, take the Paycheck Protection Program as an example. And yet, because of the huge amount of red tape and the quickness with which the program was approved, there were problems.

Some very glaring, very public problems. Roughly 45% of businesses who applied for PPP loans did not receive one, and yet businesses like Ruth’s Chris (which has posted profits throughout the 2010s) and newly-minted Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady’s non-profit received almost $1 million.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg with regard to PPP and, as a reminder, the program was considered a success by most metrics.

And, of course, by the people who passed the measure.

Imagine, if you will, a government that was actually efficient. Where those problems were either quickly fixed, or never existed? Everyone has their own answer as to why the government isn’t moving in that direction, but behind every mouth that says ‘we need this to fix government!’ is a fear of government, a general disgust for the idea that government can actually work, efficiently, for the people.

What does efficient mean? How about consensus and compromise in the houses, and expedient, affordable efforts when dealing with government-run programs.

Which brings us to Louisiana, a state trying to centralize sales tax collection. The move has been decried by local tax collectors, especially here in Livingston Parish, as an inefficient move that would leave money on the table.

Surprisingly, the rumor-mill states Rep. Clay Schexnayder will be the one to introduce a bill to centralize collections – Schexnayder represents a large swathe of Livingston Parish.

The problem with centralizing tax collection is that Louisiana, as a state, is a microcosm of the problems at large – overly large, bureaucratic government that isn’t really efficient at doing anything.

If tax collection, and subsequent spending, at the national level is any indication of how this will go – maybe it’s best that the Bayou State just… doesn’t.

Much like the gas tax that failed several years ago, if Louisiana as a state wants to take this leap the government is going to have to prove that it can function on a new, more efficient level. That includes holding an ‘honest-to-goodness’ constitutional convention and freeing up the huge portion of mandated funding to offer Louisianians some form of attempt to improve the functionality of government.

Because why should the people believe that government can safely and effectively manage even just tax collections, when the government cannot be efficient and effective with it’s spending – so much so that it must lock certain revenues behind constitutional mandates?

Government can be efficient, large or small, without their being fear. There’s no reason for the American people, or the citizens of Louisiana, to fear efficiency – it’s your money, it’s time for that currency to work in your favor, not against it.

Until the Louisiana legislature and Louisiana government make improvements to their process, centralizing tax collections is a bad idea.

McHugh David is publisher of the Livingston Parish News.

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