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Art Callaham: We're leavin' this (city, county, state)

April 14, 2013|By ART CALLAHAM

Be careful what you wish for.

Over the past few weeks — or it could be months because time really flies when you’re having fun — the following comments have appeared in the comments section of stories and columns on The Herald-Mail website and in Mail Call:

“I’m leaving (Hagerstown, Washington County, Maryland or the country) because of the latest thing that has happened (stadium is going downtown, is not going downtown; the BOE is going downtown, is not going downtown; the Suns are staying in town, are leaving town; the Maryland death penalty has been repealed, has not been repealed; increases in state gas taxes have been approved, have not been approved; county excise taxes are up, down; property taxes might increase, decrease; illegal immigrants are in, out; school lunches are more costly, less costly; the new mayor is good, bad; the county commissioners are smart, not so smart; the EDC is doing the “limbo”; city council members pander, don’t pander, on social media; and on and on).”

Apparently, everyone has a gripe and is leaving.

I might write a letter to newly elected Congressman John Delaney and ask him to put in a bill for a new census for Washington County. There might not be anyone living here by next week. They are all leaving.

No, wait, wait. I’ll just ask Neil “The Petition” Parrott to conduct a survey of how many people are left (or should I say “right’ if Neil’s going to do the survey?) in Washington County.

But wait, wait again. If there is no one left (or right) in our county, then we’ll get more of the “disparity grant” from the State of Maryland. Uh, uh, wait a minute — again — aren’t some folks leaving because we (got the disparity grant, didn’t get it). Gosh this is confusing.  Is there a cure for “disparity”?

Let me stop and figure this out.  Downtown Hagerstown is (important, not important) for the economic (growth, demise) of our community (which is Hagerstown only; the eight other municipalities only; the county as a whole; the state as a whole; the country as a whole; not in my backyard, or who cares about your backyard, or who cares about backyards at all).

OMG (that means “oh, my goodness,” since I dare not put the “big G” in my acronymn, for it might make the religious (right, left) upset, who could be (for, against) using God’s name in an editorial piece and might also leave).

On Saturday, I drove up Leitersburg Pike to the bridge where Washington County flows into Franklin County, Pa. I expected to see a line of cars, trailers and moving vans leaving the (state, county, community, area). But guess what. Almost the same number of vehicles came into Maryland than left. Go figure.  So I did a little research about where everyone might be going when they leave the (city, county, state, country). Here’s a small sample.

 After the first year’s increase in Maryland’s gas tax, we’ll still be 6 cents lower than Pennsylvania, 8 cents lower than West Virginia, but 9 cents higher than Virginia. Pennsylvania has a school tax; Virginia has “assault weapons” restrictions and a personal property tax; Maryland’s public schools rank higher than Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia; and you’ll be able to buy and smoke marijuana (for medical purposes) in Maryland, but not in West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

 The median household income for families of four is higher in Maryland than in any of the surrounding states. Maryland’s highest income tax rate is lower than West Virginia’s, the same as Virginia’s and lower than Pennsylvania’s. Maryland’s average residential property tax rate is lower than Pennsylvania’s and higher than Virginia’s and West Virginia’s.

 Move to Mexico and you can be arrested for just owning a gun. In Canada, current gun laws and restrictions make even Maryland’s new laws look lenient. Oh, but gas is much cheaper in Mexico and about the same in Canada. Think Europe sounds like a good choice for relocation? Check out $4 dollar per liter gas prices and Swedish income taxes at 50 percent plus.

I could go on and talk about the stupidity factor, growth, lunches, dog runs and more, but, like many of you, I grow weary of all the drama and threats about leaving. So, if you’re going to leave, go ahead. But on your way out, thank a veteran for defending your freedom to move.

Art Callaham is a community activist and president of the Washington County Free Library Board of Trustees.





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