Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tax Habits!

Sheldon Silver and the NYS Assembly are in the process of putting their fingerprints to the state’s proposed budget. The spending plan they want to put in place requires 800 Million in education cuts (half of what Patterson and the Senate proposed) and roughly 2 billion in borrowed monies. The chamber plans on voting for its final resolution today. "Nothing's final until it's final," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan. "We make restorations in education, we make restorations across the board within reasonable limits reflecting the economic crisis that is upon us, so we make significant cuts overall." OK. Fine. Whatever. The fact is, because of years of overspending and the spreading of services that could’ve easily been consolidated, the Empire state is in financial dire straits, and now it’s all coming to a head. Like Malcolm X once said, “the chickens have come home to roost.” All this on the heels of Patterson’s announcement that state tax refund checks will be delayed until at least April 1st. Sometimes I swear this guy can’t see the forest for the trees. And that’s my whole point here: Let’s figure out a vision for getting revenue and run with it.

My opinion: tax habits!

Do I think health care and education could survive some trimming? Sure. I guess so. Do I think we should lay off 10,000 school teachers statewide in one fiscal year and under staff ER and hospital personnel in one hard shot? Hell no, on both counts. You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. Can’t anyone see that?! My solution is tax habits. Tax ‘em to death. Beer, cigarettes, the Lotto, fast food, soda, candy. Tax ‘em all. Here’s the thing about habits: They’re habits! People aren’t going to give them up because of some new ten cent NYS recovery tax.

My vision's simple. Here it is. Let’s start with fast food. All the state’s McDonald’s, Burger Kings, Taco Bells, Wendy’s, etc, tax ‘em. For every dollar spent, add another five cent “fast food state tax.” So now a Big Mac meal at Mickey-D’s is $5.15 instead of $4.89 with the current 8% tax, or whatever. What’s wrong with that? Does anyone think that the people who actually eat this crap will stop because of some additional five cent tax? Um . . . I don’t think so. Does anyone think McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, etc will stop building restaurants in NYS? Say goodbye to 19 million potential buyers? Yeah right, try again. Do the same thing at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, etc. It’ll mean millions of generated dollars instantly, and the state can easily write that legislation off as concern for people’s health. Yeah, that’s it, that’s the ticket. Not money. Health concern.

As for cigarettes and beer? I don’t care what state leaders do with that one. Tax it till the cows come home. Add another $2.00 to cigarette prices. Call it a “state tobacco tax.” Guess what? Smokers are addicted. They’ll pay anything to puff. So, OK, charge ‘em the kitchen sink. Beer drinkers love to drink. Um, um, um give me some good beer. Love that stuff. Well, how ‘bout paying a dollar “state beer sales tax” on top of all the other extras paid with every 12-pack or case of Bud, Coors Light, whatever? Who cares? Just give me my beer. Need my beer. Again, the state can call that an aggressive measure to make people quit. Yeah, OK. I’ve never once met someone who just up and quit drinking for no other reason besides quitting, and no dollar state tax will change that. And yes, Bud, and Coors, and whoever else will keep pedaling their product in NYS. I promise you. No doubt about that.

Soda, sugary drinks, candy? Tax! Tax! Tax! Here’s how I see it. Would you rather pay an extra dollar for your Big Mac meal with soda side and candy bar dessert or lose your job five years before retirement? Your call. And despite what I’ve said, maybe all this habit taxing will convince a few people to give this garbage up, which would do wonders for our health care costs. So now we’re paying Peter to pay Paul.

Let’s take it one step further. Double traffic fines. You break the law. You pay. Oh well. And NYS is raking in dough by the basket loads. Add five cents to every toll exit, tax flights out of NYS airports, and trains out of NYS stations. If I have to fly, drive, or train somewhere, no two dollar “state transportation tax” on my ticket is going to stop me. All these options are better than begging on the breadline. Right? Turn on News 9's Capital Tonight sometime. The state of our state. It's like a horror movie.

And this may be a primitive attitude: But this is NYS, damnit! The top state in America, right? If big business wants to come here, the Wal-Mart’s, and Targets, and McDonald’s of the world, this state should take a piece of their profits for a year or make them pay the state an upfront fee to build here. New Yorkers have the most money and generally the most power. Plus, we have 19 million people here. The chain businesses will come, and come, and come. Believe me. Yes, of course, leave small business alone, but hit the big boys up for something, anything. We need money! Now you may say we wouldn’t need money if the idiots in Albany could appropriate the billions in taxes we already send. In other words, rein in spending. But, please. That ship has sailed. Our governor basically threw away his political career for baseball tickets to "watch" a World Series game, and he’s blind! Try explaining intelligent decision making to him.

In my opinion, anything is better than thousands and thousands of people losing jobs by the basket load. When that happens unemployment gets overrun and people stop spending into the economy. Don't believe me? Check out the housing market figures. Ouch. Anyone would trade a few more dollars in McDonald’s and tobacco taxes to keep their careers. Right? And taxing habits is the answer, I believe. Would there be miles of red tape? Yeah. Will it ever happen? Doubt it. But either way, habits are habits, which means people will continue them regardless of some extra tax burden. So I say instead of wiping out elementary schools and shutting down office buildings, let beer drinkers pay another dollar for their nightly twelve pack of Bud. Seems fair to me.

Brian Huba

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  1. Brian, you do not want a government, you want a nanny. Where the hell in the State Constitution does the state have the right to determine what kind of food we eat, the beverages we consume, or the habits we indulge in? This is the USA, not Cuba or North Korea. I am so close to calling it quits and leaving this state it is not funny. Do you really believe these taxes will raise the amount of revenue you claim? I personally know two smokers who now purchase their smokes on the Net from Indians, avoiding all NYS state taxes. If Fidel Patterson and Hugo Silver try and tax my beloved Pepsi, my business trips to NH, CT and/or MA will now include loading up the car with bootleg Pepsi.

    It is attitudes like yours that drive business out of New York State. Since when is building a productive enterprise that EMPLOYS people and pays TAXES a "privilege" granted by useless scumbag legislators, the vast majority of whom have never held a real job in their lives? Our health care and education system have been wasting money for decades. We in NY have far fewer citizens on Medicaid than California, yet our Medicaid costs are 25% higher!! The average cost per pupil upstate is now over $12,000 per year.

    Perhaps the state-approved media has has you and many NYers believing their silly propaganda, but some of us actually get the real news. 12K per student per year? For a class of 20, give me 240K, and I will transport, feed, and edcuated these kids to REAL standards, not the quasi-literates that the current crop of NYSUT morons produce. We are aware of the ludicrous amount of administrators and the special education scam that merely keeps NYSUT and CSEA members employed for virtually zero results.

    My children were yanked out of government schools when in the third grade a letter was sent home from a third-grade NYSUT teacher that featured such poor spelling and syntax that I found it hard to believe this bozo graduated from high school no less a college. When I found this "certified" teacher had a Master's degree, I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

    We need to eliminate the monopoly of publik edukashun (sic) and get qualified, not "certified" teachers into the schools.

  2. PHANA,

    I like how you say you "will transport, feed, and edcuated these kids to REAL standards".... maybe you need a lesson in grammar

  3. Brian,
    While its true more revenue is needed for government services, its also true that sales taxes on most of the items you suggest to be taxed is regressive. It falls mostly on the poor and lower middle classes that can't afford the additional expenses.To me the solution is to raise the progressive income tax scales to levels of the Eisenhower era. Then the rich paid their fair share of the services everyone shares.

    Keep on keepin on

    Jim Prendergast

  4. Brian,

    I am just a low income nobody living on $14,000 a year.I am under educated and a senior citizen.
    I am also fed up with our government trying to control everything I do by taxing everything they consider "bad for me".
    I am told it is good for me. I am told that it will correct my bad habits. I am told it will help our government financially.
    Well, I say if America is still a free country, the government should respect my right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
    If they need money to pay for the things they force on us let them reduce each and every government salary by 1%. This would give them a much need injection of funds.
    BUT WAIT!!!!! Our cigarette smoking, pop drinking President would never support such a thing!
    When are we going to wake up and realize countries like Cuba, Russia, and even China are freer than we are?