August 19, 2013

By: Kelly Diamond, Publisher

Is it cynical to think there is an ulterior motive behind “for-your-own-good” taxes?

Does the government really want us to change our behaviors?  Or do they just want to collect revenues off our supposed “bad” behaviors?

For Your Own Good TaxI remember hearing a talk radio host say something to the effect of the following:

“Dentists don’t want you to have good oral hygiene.  Doctors don’t want you to get well.  If everyone simply took care of themselves, dentists and doctors would go broke… as would most of the pharmaceutical industry.”

Cynical?  Perhaps.  But he was right to insinuate a profit incentive for dentists, doctors and pharmaceutical companies to NOT totally fix or cure you.  Now take THAT same idea and cross apply it to some of these laws that are meant to be “for our own good”.

Seatbelts, for example.  If I don’t wear a seatbelt, your rights are in no way threatened.  MY safety could be compromised, but yours?  Not in the least.  If I don’t wear my seatbelt in the state of Texas, I can get dinged with a ticket.  I know for a fact in California, such a violation is no longer a fix-it ticket but a moving violation involving points on your driving record.  Do they really want you to wear your seatbelt, though?

Same could be said of tobacco and alcohol taxes.  They don’t really want you to STOP smoking and drinking.  They just want to profit off your vices and indulgences.  The state anticipates making a certain amount of money each year in taxes generated from such activities.  If you actually were to quit, that would pose a problem.  If enough people quit, the state would have to find someone else to tax for some other insignificant vice.

What about the redemption values on recyclable items?  They don’t want you to redeem your recyclables.  They are trying to make the recycling incentive tantamount to a mail-in rebate: we will hold your money hostage, and make it a pain in the ass to get your money back.  All the while, they are hedging that most people are too lazy to actually go through with it.

As much grief as I give some of the green fiends, there are several concepts and ideas that are quite economically sound!  Natural resources are free.  Sunlight, air, rain… that stuff just shows up at your property, offering itself up as a humble servant to your every need!  Granted, harnessing some of these resources or collecting it in some way takes a little doing and a little investing, but in the end, the numbers don’t lie: they will pay for themselves over time. 

It’s likewise true of gardening.  Obviously, a few vegetable seeds are cheaper than buying the vegetables themselves.  And if you are reasonably able to keep a garden, you can have a sustainable means of providing fresh fruits and vegetables for you and your family.  Even if you didn’t have a plot of land, there are new and clever innovations to grow your own food either via hydroponics or repurposing a wooden freight palate.

This is all good stuff!  There is economy in ecology!   

The thing is, the government can’t make its profits off your economically sound choices.  If you don’t recycle, they could have laws in place that fine you, whereby making your ecologically unsound choices profitable.  If you do recycle, and later find a way to be self-sustaining, whereby rendering government services unnecessary, that … well, that’s a problem.

To this point, you can contend that my cynical point of view is pure conjecture.  And honestly, I wouldn’t blame you, because until I saw the proof, I had some doubts.

Man Fined Over $1,500 in fines & Serves 30 Day Sentence for Collecting Rainwater

For Your Own Good TaxGary Harrington of Eagle Point, Oregon is the private owner of over 170 acres of land.  He collects the run-off water from the snow that falls on HIS land as well as water that collects from the rainfall. 

“According to Oregon water laws, all water is publicly owned. Therefore, anyone who wants to store any type of water on their property must first obtain a permit from state water managers.

“Harrington said he applied for three permits to legally house reservoirs for storm and snow water runoff on his property. One of the “reservoirs” had been on his property for 37 years, he said.

Though the state Water Resources Department initially approved his permits in 2003, the state – and a state court — ultimately reversed the decision.”

So, the water is publicly owned.  Therefore, if you pay the government a tribute in some stupid licensing fee, you can essentially BUY this resource from the public?  And the state decides IF you can keep your rainwater or not.  They might not like you, so be prepared to be turned down for no reason whatsoever.

Maryland Kinda Wants to Tax Rainwater

In an effort to comply with the federal Clean Water Act, which calls for all states feeding into the Chesapeake Bay to clean up their storm-water runoffs, Maryland decided to institute a rain tax.

“Maryland legislators have selected nine counties and Baltimore city on which to impose this tax. The other 14 Maryland counties are exempt.”

“Wheaton Plaza pays $70,000 a year for its impervious surfaces. However, state government buildings, county office buildings and schools, which together occupy over 1,500 acres of impervious surface, are exempt. But churches, synagogues and other nonprofits with impervious surfaces are not exempt.”

The funny part of this tax is that Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and New York feed into the same waterway, but do not have a rain tax.  In fact, not even half of all of Maryland has this tax. 

“The Susquehanna River alone, flowing through the Conowingo dam, running less than 20 miles into Maryland before entering the top of the Bay, accounts for 41 percent of nitrogen and 25 percent of phosphorus, yet New York and Pennsylvania have not proposed a rain tax.”

The revenues needed to meet the burden of this clean-up effort can’t be met by just 9 counties in Maryland!  Throwing money at the problem, and absolving considerable amounts of surfaces because they belong to the state, isn’t helping.

Spain Declares a Tax on Sunshine!

For crying out loud!  Why don’t we just declare a war on peace and happiness and get this over with already!!!  

“The state (Spain) threatens fines as much as 30 million euros for those who illegally gather sunlight without paying a tax.

“The tax is just enough to make sure that homeowners cannot gather and store solar energy cheaper than state-sponsored providers.”

It will never cease to amaze me how the government can claim such things as “air space”, water or sunshine, and then criminalize the use of these natural resources if the private citizen doesn’t first PAY for permission to use it.  Presumably by paying this money, all is made right.  Who was being wronged before the tax was paid?

I realize that nature has an unfair advantage of being more cost efficient in its deliverables than the state.  Everything has that advantage over the state.  Private charities are so efficient, in fact, they have to outlaw them in some places.

Only the government would think it is a good business model to profit off people for simply living.  I expect a LIFE tax soon.  There’s already a death tax, so why not!