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Taxes and government control

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By Ralph Damiani

John Nothdurft, a legislative specialist for The Heartland Institute asked some interesting questions.

What do alcohol, playing cards, soft drinks, blueberries, tobacco, bottled water, and nudity all have in common?

His answer is obivious, states tax these things to bring in more revenue and alter people’s behavior.

And it is getting worse - if you will. Massachusetts is looking at a candy tax, Nevada is looking at a prostitution tax, a marijuana tax will come in California and a Seattle will soon have a plastic bag tax.

Targeted taxes are nothing new to American politics, but the list of products and services suggested for new, additional taxation in the states has seemed endless this year. These taxes can be seen as a backdoor way for government to control more of our lives.

So, the Illinois Dental Society is proposing a 5 percent soda tax to pay for dental programs. But why are the soft drink companies and their consumers are to blame for people who do not practice proper dental care, or who don’t eat right?

While it may be good to discourage the overuse of bottled water and plastic bags, making you pay a penalty for doing so seems out of place.

Nothdurft writes that what all these taxes have in common is that they are all examples of poor tax policy.

Sound tax policy generally abides by four basic principles: applied to a broad base; kept at a competitive, low rate; non-distorting; and completely transparent to taxpayers.

The narrowly focused taxes now in vogue ignore these principles. They allow government spending to continue growing, but the revenues from these taxes decline as the products become more expensive to the consumer, leaving states with larger budget deficits that have to be made up by still higher taxes.

Thus these taxes are hazardous to both the economy and basic equality.

Unfortunately, the disregard for these principles is exactly why targeted taxes are popular among politicians looking for a politically easier way to dump more of our money into the government’s trough.

By imposing the tax on a much smaller portion of the population than is affected by income or sales taxes, politicians can limit the taxpayer backlash.

Upon implementation, the taxes are often embedded into the product’s price to hide them from the eyes of consumers, Nothdurft writes.

As Nothdurft concludes, imposing taxes on anything and everything imaginable just allows government to shove its hands deeper into our pockets and run our personal lives more aggressively.

Taxpayers are being divided and conquered; they must stand together and start speaking out against these types of taxes regardless of who will be stuck paying them.

They should force government to focus on cutting spending instead.

Some good goings on

The visit by Beta Sigma Phi is a wonderful boost for Los Alamos.

And the corporate sponsors who stepped up to lend a hand should be recognized.

• Nuclear Level, $1,000 plus – Los Alamos National Bank.

• Fat Man Level, $500 plus – Sparkplug Studio, Best Western Hilltop House and Pepsi Cola.

• Little Boy Level, $200 – Ridgeview Veterinary Clinic, American Legion, Aspen Copies, Frito Lay, Nabisco, Smith’s White Rock and Los Alamos and Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs.

Katy Korkos, chamber member services director, praised the generosity of local businesses and individuals who donated gifts to place in the convention bags, such as pencils from Community Bank and mini first aid kits from Los Alamos Medical Center, among others.

Also, 15 local businesses have purchased program ads as a way to support the convention.

There was a Ration Road contest downtown Saturday where the attendees received a ration card and went to the 10 designated sponsor stops and had their card punched. Once their card is full their name was included in a drawing to receive the cost of their registrations fees back.

The stops were, Uli’s, Brownell’s Hallmark, the Coffee House Cafe, Otowi Station, CB Fox, the Chamber, Bella Cosa, the Historical Museum, Mesa Public Library and Karen Wray Gallery and Studio.

We have a lot to offer here and our tourist industry could be a lot stronger. We hope this is just the first step in building upon that engine.