More money to Wichita government

A letter in today’s Wichita Eagle places a lot of faith on things not yet seen, and in things we know don’t work.

“I think it is dumb that people are complaining about the new Intrust Bank Arena. It will bring money and tourists to Wichita, not to mention great entertainment. That means more money brought to our government, and that’s a good thing. — Caleb Beeson, Wichita”

First, since the Intrust Bank Arena is not yet open, it has no track record. We have absolutely no idea how well it will do, financially or otherwise. A lot of people think it’s “dumb” to count chickens before eggs have hatched.

Then, there’s this letter writer’s idea that more money in the hands of government is a “good thing.”

To believe that paying taxes to the government is good requires believing that government spends wisely. There’s little evidence of that.

Perhaps the writer means that when tourists from out of town travel to Wichita and spend money, our local government will be gathering tax revenue from out of our area. Better to tax someone else than ourselves — that’s the underlying message.

These taxes serve to suppress travel to cities that levy them. How does it feel to have a city add 13% to the cost of your hotel room, as I have paid in some cities? Or how do you think travelers feel when a city levies fees and charges that add 26% to the cost of renting a car, as some places do?

Since demand falls with rising prices, these high taxes reduce demand for travel to high-tax cities. Probably worse than that, they leave a bitter aftertaste for those who pay them. Do we want travelers to Wichita to feel that they’ve been soaked by our local taxes? They won’t feel good about coming back again.

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