The price of doing business

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It took perhaps 45 minutes and less than $100 for Triad City Beat to set up business in the city of Greensboro. Our publisher took care of it in a whirlwind process that’s been streamlined for convenience and ease of use, and brought the city business license into the office before lunch.

Not every municipality in North Carolina has such a simple system — they vary widely across the state. But none of that matters anymore, because on May 29 Gov. Pat McCrory abolished the authority of North Carolina cities and towns to sell privilege licenses.

It’s a move the governor and GOP lawmakers say further enhances the business climate in our state, and perhaps it will. It looks like TCB will have to pay an extra $100 next year, which would cover at least four packs of notebooks and two big packages of nice pens. Because in the Triad the fee for the privilege license is based on overall sales, larger companies stand to save a lot more.

And obviously, it hits our cities harder than it does our rural areas.

But this doesn’t seem to be about money.

It’s yet another way to shift the tax burden off of corporations and onto citizens, part of a concerted, nationwide political movement towards plutocracy — which is what it’s called when government is controlled solely by moneyed interests.

Greensboro collected about $3 million in revenue from privilege licenses in 2013, less than 1 percent of the overall budget. Winston-Salem took in $2.5 million. High Point’s privilege-license tax garnered just $800,000.

Of course, this revenue will have to be made up — Winston-Salem is considering a 1-cent property-tax increase. Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan says they will either have to raise taxes or cut services.

It’s yet another way to shift the tax burden off of corporations and onto citizens, part of a concerted, nationwide political movement towards plutocracy — which is what it’s called when government is controlled solely by moneyed interests.

This legislation has the added effect of stripping power away from cities and onto the state, another disturbing trend that is causing systematic erosion of our public schools and universities, our cultural institutions, our historic buildings and even our flora — the city of Greensboro, for example, seems unable to prevent Duke Energy from coming into people’s yards and cutting down their trees.