Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore |

Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore

Tony Vagneur
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

A woman I hold in the highest esteem called the other day requesting I uncork the wine ” it hadn’t been a good day. Not only did a deal fall through, one that she had nurtured with the utmost energy and care, but she had received an unwelcome notice of property re-evaluation from the government. Her property tax bill will almost double, and she’s not quite sure how she’s going to pay it. “OMG, time to pony up. I’m going to have to get married or move!”

Geezus, have times gotten that desperate, forcing otherwise sane people to do crazy things just to survive? The only two guarantees in life, death and taxes, may be a paradigm in want of change. It’s not wise to go up against the thunder of the gods, but I’m thinking eternal earthly life might be easier to exact than a break on taxes. Sure, a big part of the political campaign rhetoric of our mixed-race father in Washington was to lower taxes (for us working stiffs), and maybe somewhere in the blitz of a faltering economy and vaporized jobs, there is relief from some kinds of taxes, but if you think that’s made a difference, you should look around.

It’s difficult to pinpoint, but everything is going up, including gasoline. The government, our beneficent “friend,” theoretically controlled by us, has raised fees on a ton of things that businesses need, so don’t you know, even if there’s no direct tax hike on the “ordinary” person, everyone is starting to pay more for everything because “government remittances” have been surreptitiously forced up. That’s obfuscation of the side of government, acquiescence on our part.

Take my friend, who bought her Aspen property about 10 years ago. She’s worked her butt off, put most of her money into the place and finally killed the mortgage. Exemplary management on her end, but now she’s being forced to pay taxes on the property as though she acquired it at the peak of the recently insane real estate market. If she bought the place in 2008, maybe she could afford to pay the newly assessed property taxes. But she purchased it in 1998, which was a different world then, particularly for a gal who works. She is being penalized for the excesses of other people.

Think about this: Her shifts at work have been cut (that’s the worst that will happen, if she’s lucky), and it’ll take forever to replenish her savings, now needed to get by in this mess. She isn’t a drain on resources, isn’t scrambling for scarce “affordable” housing, doesn’t have kids in school, nor does she use any other specific government entity for anything; even walks or bikes everywhere she needs to go. And she’s no fool. She participates in the political process.

With the arrogance of typical bureaucratically-minded officials everywhere, we get fed boilerplate nonsense. “We’re mandated by the state/federal government to” … blah, blah … ‘ad infinitum,’ …” which basically means if you don’t like it, tough. There’s another sucker waiting to take your place.

Success can breed failure, and maybe our government has learned to depend too much on the good times. Local governments (and voters) have taken on more fat than you could find three feet up a cow’s ass, and they continue on with the same tired threat about not wanting to cut services. We need to embrace intelligent management and cut expenses and mill levies. Michael Owsley, God bless him, has some good ideas in this regard, but we all need to speak up.

In the meantime, there swings my friend in the political wind, made a victim by her ability to plan ahead and create an independent life for herself in Aspen. Now it’s move or get married. Is that any way to treat the worker citizens who stick by this community through thick and thin? She’s not alone, for certain, but would you want to live like that?