If you were divorced in 1876 and were considering re-marriage next year, do you really think that voters in the state in which you live would be the proper authority to determine whether or not it is a good idea? Well, if you add the interests of a billionaire to the equation, this is precisely what you get, at least in Missouri.
But first, think about this issue from a bird’s-eye perspective. Suppose that two people had been married years ago and divorced not too long after that. Since that time, they have often had conversations about re-marrying, but it never got very far because one was far wealthier than the other and each of them owned their own fiefdoms and were not eager to share control.
But then, a group of people who are vaguely familiar with both of them decide that they have the power to decide whether or not they should get remarried. Many of these people had never met either of them, but once somebody decided to make it financially beneficial for them, they took it upon themselves to be the arbiters and would decide about a remarriage.
In the case of the proposed reunification of St. Louis City and County, Rex Sinquefield is a very interesting civic booster in and around Missouri. He had 18 cleft palate operations before the age of 5 and spent much of his youth in a local Catholic orphanage. He is a real rags-to-riches story, becoming an “index-fund pioneer” and has had assets over a billion dollars since 1980.
One thing that he clearly remembers from his youth was his mother complaining about having to pay a 1% earnings tax in the city of St. Louis. He seems to have not lost one bit of his anger about this particular tax that has been very helpful in funding the cash-strapped city of St. Louis.
How did this get him into the divorce business? It’s because he is creative and as crafty as a chess-master, which he happens to be. Since 2010, he has looked for ways to allow St. Louis and Kansas City jettison the earnings tax. And just recently, he found a new way to try to make that happen. His strategy involves a remarriage of the city of St. Louis with its surrounding county, thus voiding their divorce that occurred in 1876.
Through a complicated set of maneuvers, the earnings tax would be abolished in St. Louis if the re-marriage occurs. It has to do with an obscure legality whereby the St. Louis City would become a different classification of city in Missouri should there be re-unification.
So, what exactly is Sinquefield trying to do? Well, he wants voters in Missouri to vote in November 2020 on an initiative to reunify the city and county. But, what makes this odd is that the decision would be entirely in the hands of the people of Missouri. So, 6.1 million people would be making a decision about something that would have direct impact on only the 1.3 million people living in the city of St. Louis and its surrounding county.
If the ballot initiative was modified so that rather than letting the voters of Missouri determine if there will be a re-marriage, instead it authorized the two courters to decide for themselves, then this would be an excellent idea. Yes, it would not be an arranged marriage; instead, each party would have his or her freedom of choice.
If it were not so deceitful, the idea would be tantalizing. Missouri, which historically has discriminated against its two major metropolitan areas, would have a chance to empower them. Ultimately, if government is going to work in the future, the states are going to have to fade away and newly constructed metropolitan and rural authorities will be able to shape their own futures. But that is not what this is about. Nice try, Rex. Let’s hope you don’t fool too many.