You may have noticed a green paper on your car or your door with the image of The Thinker. The propaganda — paid for by Isla Vistans Against Higher Taxes, a group who seemingly has no online presence — claims to be giving you the truth, but it is not presenting the whole truth. In this opinion piece, I will prove the insubstantial nature of the rhetorical arguments on the advertisement, reveal the full truth of Measures E and F and make a case for voting YES on E and F. Let’s take a look at the paper’s arguments, line by line. There aren’t many.
YOU CAN VOTE ON MEASURE F ON NOVEMBER 8.
The first statement is a half-truth. You can, in fact, vote on Measure F on November 8. However, there is also a Measure E that is intrinsically tied to Measure F. Measure E is not mentioned once in the paper, which reads more like scare tactic propaganda than informative letter. Measure E provides the context for Measure F. Measure E is the proposal to make a Community Services District (CSD) in Isla Vista while F is the funding through a utility tax. By leaving out Measure E, Mr. Eckert would rather let your imagination decide where that money is going than present the facts. If you are inclined to fear when presented with the idea of a new tax, your imagination will create a nightmare.
YOU CAN VOTE YES TO RAISE YOUR HOUSING COSTS.
This statement is again misleading. Measure F is an 8 percent utility tax — essentially a sales tax on only the water, gas, electricity, sewage and/or garbage disposal services you use. How much will your housing costs go up? We’ll get there. Even so, what are we raising costs for? Again, the unmentioned Measure E, the CSD, is our answer.
MEASURE F WILL TAX RENTERS OVER $500,000 PER YEAR — YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR.
$500,000 sounds like a lot of money! And it is, for an average person. However, as a budget for a local government, it’s really not. Measure E, the Community Services District, is a way for the residents of Isla Vista to claim some sovereignty, to have a local government that is responsive to our needs and directly represents us. With a little thrifty effort this money can go a long way, and with the number of individuals living in Isla Vista, raising over $500,000 annually for a local government costs an individual about $5-$15 a year.
Having a local government means we will have an elected council to hear our issues instead of having to travel downtown and wait for hours to speak at a meeting for a few minutes with the hope that the county can juggle our problems along with all the other issues on their plate. $15 a year, less than an Amazon Prime subscription, is the smallest price we can pay for this power.
AND THE PROPONENTS ADMIT THAT HALF OF THAT WILL GET LOST IN BUREAUCRACY AND NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY.
Again, Mr. Eckert is being exceedingly misleading, to the point where I begin to question his intentions in obscuring the whole truth of the situation. Half of the money is going to fund three jobs, one full-time and two part-time positions that are necessary for the efficient management of our new local government. That the money will “never see the light of day” is such an ambiguous statement it is essentially meaningless, except as a rhetorical device to make you fear losing your money to some unnamed bureaucracy.
THINK ABOUT IT.
Clearly I am thinking, Mr. Eckert. If I went to vote, informed only by this piece of paper, all I would know is that there is a tax. The definition of a tax is that the government is taking my money, so by telling me that they’re going to take it but not how much of it or where that money is going, you are not presenting any real argument. In fact, I don’t think you really want any of us to think about it, you just want us to believe, the way you believe, that it is never in our best interest to raise taxes, so why should we now? You want us to fear the way you fear.
MEASURE F WILL TAX YOUR WATER, YOUR TRASH PICK UP, YOUR SEWAGE DISPOSAL, YOUR ELECTRICITY AND YOUR GAS.
This is the definition of a utility tax. While true, it is not presenting any new information. But having a long list of taxable services makes the tax seem bigger than it is. I’m getting taxed for five things?? Think of the fear being inspired! The reality is that the tax is 8 percent, not mentioned once in the paper, which again will cost an Isla Vistan a median of $5-$15 a year. Think about how much you personally pay for utilities. Now divide that by ten. The tax is even a little less than that. Give up three trips to Starbucks, or one trip to Freebirds, and you’ve already recouped your losses.
IF YOU PAY THE UTILITY BILL, YOU’LL SEE THE TAX ON YOUR BILL.
Measure F is a utility tax, so the natural place to see the results of the tax is on your bill. You will see, for a $100 bill, an $8 tax. Personally, when I see this tax, I am going to take a moment and think about the decades of hard work dozens, if not hundreds, of students and community members devoted themselves to. I imagine the especially tax-averse in the population would see this line on the paper and freak out, as the visual image of seeing their money going to a local government designed to be responsive to individuals would be quite repulsive. Another weak scare tactic.
DID THE PUSHERS OF MEASURE F TELL YOU YOU WON’T PAY BECAUSE YOUR LANDLORD WILL BE PAYING?
I don’t know who is telling people this, but I will tell you, as a pusher for both Measures E and F, that whoever pays for utilities pays the tax. If you live in University housing, you are outside the CSD and neither you nor the University will pay the tax. This isn’t to say the tax can’t be passed on to you anyway, but we’ll get there in a moment.
IF YOU BELIEVE THAT, THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO WILL SELL YOU OCEANFRONT PROPERTY IN ARIZONA.
This line is purely pathos designed to make you feel stupid for paying a tax. This may perhaps be the most dishonest line on the entire paper. It is the climax, yet the rising action to get here was void of much useful information to begin with. So, Mr. Eckert, to claim your readers are ignorant for wanting a tax, providing no information as to what the tax is funding nor how much it will cost the payers and then insinuating more stupidity is solely an insult to everyone you distributed the paper to — all of Isla Vista. I would not even call this an argument; it is rhetorical hogwash.
EVERYBODY KNOWS ALL COSTS ARE RECOUPED IN THE RENT.
No, Mr. Eckert, we are not all property owners and we do not all know how new taxes will affect rent. I call this argument the appeal to no one in particular. It makes an argument seem plausible because everybody knows this stuff, and if you don’t, you’re just a dummy. Of course, no evidence is presented that everybody knows this, or even that the costs need to be recouped in the rent.
Be careful, though, because property owners will make sure they don’t pay this tax. As stated before, those who pay utilities will pay the tax. If your rent already covers certain utilities, your landlord is currently “paying” the utilities, but not really. They are merely handling the accounts, and their own bureaucracy is making sure some of your rent money pays for your utilities anyway. In other words, someone in the property management business gets paid to handle utility accounts for you, and you probably end up paying more for utilities for the “privilege” of their bureaucracy.
If Measure E and F pass, let’s see how much property owners affect rent. It may be an excuse for them to gouge more dollars out of us for rent, when the 8 percent tax in reality will only increase costs by a median of $5-$15 per person. So, realistically, we should see rent increase by at most around $15 per person in a household, because there is no reason for private bureaucracy to consume extra money for no extra work.
While the fight for self-governance has taken place over decades, it is up to us, right now, to make it happen. We probably have the least stake in the game compared to those before us who put in the effort to make these measures happen, but we have the opportunity to have a real stake in Isla Vista. We have the chance to shape our community for the first time, with our own government that we are funding, that represents us and that we can be a part of.
MEASURE F “YES” = HIGHER HOUSING COSTS.
Again, the higher housing costs should be marginal. We shouldn’t expect to see rent prices soar. While there are certainly people who struggle over $5-$15, it is the smallest price we can pay for control of our own community. Let’s watch how much rent and other housing costs actually grow, and try to determine if the majority of the cost increase is because of a small tax or private industry greed.
ON NOVEMBER 8 VOTE NO ON MEASURE F.
Vote yes, because we need a way to fund our community government.
Vote yes to finish the job student and community activists have been working on for decades.
Vote yes to provide three new jobs in Isla Vista.
Vote yes for a council that will represent the interests of the community, UCSB and the county.
Vote yes because UCSB, a U.S. News top 10 public research university (number 3 UC) and top 10 kick-ass party school, will provide $200,000 a year for seven years to help get our community government going — even though they are part of Santa Barbara County and not subject to the utility tax.
Vote yes because the opposition wants you to be ignorant and scared.
Vote yes on Measures E AND F, because a new tax is being proposed for a good reason.
Some final questions I have for Mr. Eckert: Who comprises the group Isla Vistans Against Higher Taxes? When/where do you meet? Do you live in Isla Vista, or just own property here? Did making and distributing the papers cost more than you would pay in the new tax? Are you just against the new tax, or against self-governance?