William Barber Rakes in Taxpayer Dollars – Leads — Moral (no it is) — Money Mondays!

While the Rev. William Barber, head of the NCNAACP, likes to call opponents extremists and rant about the immorality of legislative actions, he never mentions one important detail concerning his personal interest. An organization associated with his church, Rebuilding Broken Places Community Development Corporation, of which he is the founder and still chairman, has bellied up to the taxpayer buffet to the tune of over $1.15 million in recent years. A quick search shows some but not all of the taxpayer dollars garnered by his organization (State Agencies come from NC Open Book:

State Agency

Child Nutrition Programs

Dept. of Health and Human Services

$565,220

State Agency

Not Listed

Not Listed

$1,275

State Agency

Support Our Students

Dept. of Public Safety

$245,426

State Agency

Dropout Prevention Grant

Dept. of Public Instruction

$173,331

State Funded

Econ Dev & Capacity Building

NC Rural Center

$134,480

State Funded

Capacity Building (Jan 2013)

NC Community Dev. Initiative

>$40,000

 Tentative Total

>$1,159,732

As the head of the NCNAACP and the organizer of the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ), he is the originator and ringmaster of the “Moral Money Monday” protests. Barber has said in many places that the HKonJ organizations are the organizers and force behind the “Moral Money Monday” protests.

It is a collection of groups that, like Barber’s group, has benefited handsomely from taxpayer dollars. While he cloaks his actions in morality and even the trappings of Christianity, going as far as wearing religious garb at the protests, his interest is really about that least religious of concerns – Mammon, or money.

He and his cohorts in the HKonJ organizing group do not want to lose access or control of the taxpayers’ dollars. This may very well happen if the current legislature continues to reduce taxes, reform government and stop funding special-interest groups.

So remember from now on to refer to the Monday protests by their proper name !Moral Money Monday” !

Civil Disobedience Lite

The way the news reports it, you would think that the participants in “Moral Monday” were moral crusaders. And indeed, the participants and organizers of “Moral Monday” certainly encourage that perception. Writing in the Guardian, William Barber compared his merry band of lawbreakers – disproportionately comprised of old, white liberals – to Mahatma Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Arrested UNC history professor Jacquelyn Dowd Hall agreed: “There are many analogies to what happened during the Civil Rights movement.” And in one particularly nauseating account, Jedediah Purdy compares himself to Henry David Thoreau, a “militant watchman of his own authority.”

These comparisons do great violence to the memories of those activists. Ghandi marched 240 miles on footto protest British policies in India. Martin Luther King faced down fire hoses, bombings, and police dogs in Birmingham. Henry David Thoreau was furious when friends bailed him out of jail, believing that prison time was a crucial part of triggering reform.

And then you have this:

“They got us processed in about two hours,” [NC NAACP Vice President Carolyn] Coleman said Thursday. “Which is good, because I had a church meeting to get to in Greensboro.”

And this:

“[Duke professor William] Chafe referred to his short incarceration as a ‘great time’ that allowed the protesters to make new friendships and have wide-ranging conversations. Additionally, the protesters all sang together throughout their eight to 10-hour stays in prison.”

And this:

“When they  came to arrest me, I handed my big umbrella to one of the capitol policemen as if he were my valet…In the photos, I guess I look enough like a prisoner if you know the context, but I could also be a colonial administrator strolling, hands clasped behind his back, flanked by his batmen.”

At a certain point, you have to wonder what kind of fantasy world these people live in to compare themselves to King, Thoreau, and Ghandi. The truth is that Moral Monday protesters are undercutting the democratic process, costing taxpayers a boatload of money, and clogging an already overloaded criminal justice system.

A Brief History of NC’s “Food Tax”

One of the oft-cited criticisms of the NC Senate’s tax reform plan is that it would extend the state sales tax to groceries. Observers may be interested, however, in learning more about North Carolina’s history with taxing food purchases.

North Carolina first enacted a sales tax in 1933, it was promised to be “temporary.”  The rate was 3%. Food for consumption was exempted.

In 1961, the food exemption was repealed, subjecting groceries to the 3% state sales tax.

In 1971, the state authorized an additional 1 cent local sales tax for counties, adding to the total sales tax paid by consumers, including groceries.

The state authorized an additional one-half cent local sales tax in both 1983 and 1985, bringing total local sales taxes to 2%, and combined state/local sales tax to be paid by consumers to 5%, including groceries.

In 1985, North Carolina passed a law exempting the purchase of food with food stamps from the sales tax, this exemption would also apply to the local sales tax on groceries.

In 1991, North Carolina increased the state sales tax rate from 3% to 4%.

In 1996, the state passed a law to reduce the state sales tax rate on food from the standard rate of 4% down to 3%, effective Jan. 1, 1997.

The following year, state lawmakers passed another law lowering the state sales tax on food to 2%.

In the next year (1999), legislators eliminated the remaining state sales tax on food.

In sum, North Carolina has applied a sales tax on food since 1961.

  • From 1961 to 1971, the rate was 3%, and it crept up to 5% by 1985. Remained at 5% until 1991.
  • The rate topped out at a combined state/local rate of 6% from 1991 to 1996.
  • From 1996 to 1999, the state sales tax on food was phased out.
  • From 1999, the state no longer applied the state sales tax rate on food; however the local rate of 2% remained.
  • Food purchased with food stamps was liable for the sales tax up until 1985.

Currently, food consumers pay the local 2% sales tax on most groceries, and the full 6.75% combined state/local rate on certain items including candy, soda, “prepared foods”* and dietary supplements. Food purchased with food stamps is exempt from both the state and local sales tax. North Carolina has 1.7 million food stamp recipients.

*Prepared food is defined as follows: Food that meets at least one of the conditions of this subdivision. Prepared food does not include food the retailer sliced, repackaged, or pasteurized but did not heat, mix, or sell with eating utensils.

a.         It is sold in a heated state or it is heated by the retailer.

b.         It consists of two or more foods mixed or combined by the retailer for sale as a single item. This sub‑subdivision does not include foods containing raw eggs, fish, meat, or poultry that require cooking by the consumer as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent food borne illnesses.

c.         It is sold with eating utensils provided by the retailer, such as plates, knives, forks, spoons, glasses, cups, napkins, and straws.