The Charlotte Observer just ran a story about how a new poll from the liberal Public Policy Polling outfit showed Charlotte residents were willing to pay more in property taxes to fund Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and “Bright Beginnings.” Of course, the polling in this case isn’t much different than what takes place in the video above. First, the questionnaire leads you through the sob-story of potential cuts with questions like this:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools operates Bright Beginnings, a public pre-kindergarten program for educationally at-risk 4-year-olds. Bright Beginnings is facing a $10 million+ cut which would reduce the number of children served by the program from 3,200 to 1,178. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being not concerned at all and 5 being very concerned, how concerned are you about the impact of this cut on our community’s educationally at-risk children and local schools? Please press the number that corresponds to your level of concern.
After you’re sufficiently teary-eyed over the fate of at-risk youth (who actually perform better when they abstain from the “Bright Beginnings” program), the poll asks not whether you would support a tax increase, but rather “How much more in local or state taxes would you be willing to pay so that children under the age of 5 in low-income families are able to access public pre-Kindergarten/Preschool?” Furthermore, the first answer isn’t zero. Instead, that answer has been transplanted and the first option is “under 100 dollars.” 52 percent of respondents chose this answer. I’d be willing to bet more than a few didn’t wait through the increasing valuations to hear the “no increase” option.
This poll offered a false choice. It gave the presumption of a tax increase after tugging respondents’ collective heartstrings. Despite blatant manipulation, a majority still chose the smallest increase offered, and while it’s technically true that 78 percent opted for “some increase,” 73% weren’t willing to put down more than $100. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to CMS’s billion dollar budget, the property tax equivalent of slipping a homeless guy a couple bucks so he’ll back away from your window.