The key rule of responsible long term financial planning is: Whenever you build a financial surplus, even for a moment, immediately blow that surplus on a plan that will also eliminate a steady source of long term income. I was kidding! That is not actually a "good" rule of financial planning. But it is a craven political rule, and isn't that what's really important?

Those North Dakotans, they get a little oil money in the ol' state coffers, and next thing you know they want to end the property tax. Completely end it, goodbye, no mas. Boy, gee, sounds great! A few drawbacks, though, maybe. From the NYT:

An unusual coalition of forces, including the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce and the state's largest public employees' unions, vehemently oppose the idea, arguing that such a ban would upend this quiet capital. Some big unanswered questions, the opponents say, include precisely how lawmakers would make up some $812 million in annual property tax revenue; what effect the change would have on hundreds of other state laws and regulations that allude to the more than century-old property tax; and what decisions would be left for North Dakota's cities, counties and other governing boards if, say, they wanted to build a new school, hire more police, open a new park.

This type of plan is somewhat like winning $500 in the lottery, and deciding to quit your job in celebration. You will come to regret it soon enough. Haha, remember when New York's MTA once had a surplus, so they gave everyone discount Metro cards at Christmas? And then about three seconds later they had a deficit of hundreds of millions of dollars. Kind of wish they hadn't blown it all on a wild scheme, then.

Did you people up there know it is possible to, say, reduce property taxes, instead? Or simply to pass a law ensuring that no one is evicted due to inability to pay property taxes, if that is your main concern? Have you considered the fact that most alternatives to property taxes are even less fair because people with property, at the very least, are wealthy enough to have some assets, such as property? When your momentary cash surplus INEVITABLY DISAPPEARS, you may wish that you did not vaporize $800 million in annual revenues with no plan to replace them, so you could, you know, continue having a functioning state government.

There's a story about an ant and a grasshopper that's applicable to this and all similar situations.

[NYT. Pic via]