You may win $500,000

You’ve gotten something like this before — a message saying you won money — but probably not from these folks. I received this paraphrased dangling carrot from Greenfield Main Street Inc.

The offer is restricted to the Downtown Historical District, and even though my home was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the area when established, I’m not really eligible because I’m not a business. Maybe I should fill out the form and declare myself as the future location for the first Greenfield Medical Marijuana Center. Maybe that would draw their attention.

GMS is our local group of well-intentioned downtown merchants who work hard at finding ways to entice more dollars to be spent in the central business district. They do good stuff, and I appreciate the additions to the area, but I have two complaints.

No. 1, this group of private businessmen takes government money (from here on out referred to as tax money) from our conservative Republican politicians and uses it to invest in their private buildings.

No. 2, the organization insists on calling this money grants. These grants come directly from the local, state or national tax stream, which happens to be your pocket. This particular set of funds consist of federal, state and Greenfield city tax monies.

Our politicians look at it as free money. I wish both the businessmen and politicians would at least be honest about it and call it tax money. I think they are afraid that if they called it tax money, taxpayers might be offended. I’ve fought this battle before, and even the newspaper reporters refuse to be clear as to where the money truly comes from. Investigative reporting (asking questions) may be a thing of the past.

I would hope that most of you people realize that nothing is free once the government gets involved. Grants are mostly tax money. If it comes from a private organization, you can be sure the donor’s name is going to be mentioned.

That “free thing” leads me to today’s activity. I walked around Thornwood Preserve. Truly a nice gesture from citizens wanting to do something for the community … and they did. I strongly suggest a few of you (not everyone because I’d like to keep this for myself) go out and walk the grounds.

My problem here is that too many people think this donation made it free. Nope, the government is involved, and again, free doesn’t happen when even a conservative Republican council is there watching. Beckenholdt Park was a similar situation — also donated by a well-meaning citizen, but that doesn’t mean either is free for the taxpayers.

First off, any property newly owned by the city is taken off the tax rolls. That means your share of taxes automatically rises. Then we start talking about adding the amenities like signage, bathrooms and parking. Who is going to clean the signage, pick up paper from the parking lot and cut the grass? No one is going to look far for that answer. Maybe not all at once, but eventually someone is going to be hired, gas and equipment will be purchased, and it will all come out of the taxpayer’s pocket.

You get to donate the tax money.

“But look at all of the wonderful things we now have” is what you are thinking. That takes me back several years to when an investigative reporter (remember that phrase from above?) asked Bart Peterson about the tax added to the Marion County coffers that was specified only for building Market Square Arena. Many years after MSA was imploded, that tax was still active and Bart’s response was “but look at all of the wonderful things we now have.”

Isn’t it nice to get things that are free?

Phil Miller of Greenfield is the former chair of the Hancock County Libertarian Party. He also served on the Greenfield City Council.