‘SIN TAXES MAY OFFER SALVATION’

Reader Erin Mueller of Redlands makes a number of interesting points in response to a recent column …

Mr. Weeks,

I’ve just finished reading your opinion piece headlined “Sin’ taxes may offer salvation” (http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/sanbernardinocounty/ci_21202791/john-weeks-sin-taxes-may-offer-salvation) in the Redlands Daily Facts and I had several questions and a comment or two for you.

 
You mention several items or practices you think should
be taxed.
 
1) Political campaign signs.
No one likes looking at them, I’ll grant you, but why should we
only tax signs? Why not political radio, television and newspaper
advertisements? Or, better yet, since, as you say, these ads only get us
useless politicians, who based on the current local, county and state
situations can’t figure out or don’t care how to manage money anyway,
why don’t we stop paying politicians altogether? Why don’t we make the
politicians either take no salary and perks or make them pay for the
privilege of serving in public office? After all, that’s what paying a
tax on their advertisements would be, wouldn’t it?
Granted, one would need to be independently wealthy to run for
office in that case, but they’d probably pay a bit more attention to the
job, then, wouldn’t you think?
 
2) Spray paint.
Surely, no one, except possibly the taggers, could disagree that
graffiti is ugly, expensive to repair, worthless and irritating. But
what about the family that wants to change the color of their patio
furniture and is now required to pay a “sin” tax for the horrible,
immoral act of using a can of spray-on paint for the purpose for which it
was actually produced?
 
3) Ice cream trucks.
In an hour period in the
evening, I might have as many as three ice cream trucks and carts come
down my street. Many days, I’d love to tell the man with the handbell
exactly what he should do with it or wave down one of the trucks just to
tell them to turn the music down. But it’s only a mild annoyance,
really, to know the three men who operate these mobile businesses are
doing something to provide for their families.
And, frankly, their legal businesses are much less irritating than
the illegal pizza shop that sets up directly
across the street from my front door a couple times a month. They sell
chain-owned pizzas for three or four hours, with a megaphone, for $5,
clogging up what is already a street generally lined with parked cars
even further. I don’t think we should put a sin tax on pizza companies
because this one illegal operation inconveniences me, any more than ice
cream trucks deserve a tax for the noise or that the government should
tax “unhealthy” food to save me from my lack of willpower.
 
4) Panhandlers.
Exactly how do you propose to
separate the “hopeless unfortunates” as you put it, from the people
just taking advantage? I know you mention the “strapping, able-bodied
people who feel they don’t need to earn their own money,” but, still,
how do you tell someone who’s just recently down on their luck from
someone who doesn’t feel like working?
 
My final question is this: the city of Redlands has
proven they can’t handle money, the county of San Bernardino has proven
they can’t handle money, the state of California has proven they can’t
handle money, and the government of the United States of America has
proven that they can’t handle money. So what about that situation should
inspire any resident to give more money to any of these entities by way of
approving a tax increase? As I’m sure you know, Albert Einstein is
quoted as saying, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again,
but expecting different results.” Isn’t it time for citizens, and
journalists, to start telling the government, at every level, that we’re
not insane and they won’t receive any more money until they prove they
can use it wisely?