We spend a lot of time these days twisting words into meanings never intended. It's our way of avoiding the truth by seeking out grey areas. Any old grey area will do.
The other day four of us were sitting around debating the meaning of the word "tax". All of us being relatively conservative I assumed it would be a short debate. I was wrong, by a long shot.
We could agree on a few basics. For example when you buy a car you pay sales tax. See right there, the name itself says "tax" so it must be a tax. And when you pay income tax the name again is a dead giveaway. It is a tax. But that's about the extent of the agreement among us four. We were split 50/50 from there on out.
If that car you paid sales tax on when you bought it happens to need gas you fill it up at the station. And if you want to park that car somewhere downtown you pay to park by feeding the meter. And you pay again to get a car inspection, and pay a disposal fee for replacing your old tires, and you pay an admission fee to drive that car into public park to do some fishing. Which requires a license.
Is a fee a tax? Is a license a tax? Now things are getting dicey. Personally, I would make the case they are all taxes, some just go by different names. I don't care if you want to call them a fee, license, giraffe, or koosie those are just labels we whip up. Labels that all equate to "tax" at the end of the day.
To simplify, so far we've identified Level One taxes that boldly state exactly what they are right there in their name such as a sales tax. Then we have thinly disguised Level Two taxes that go by sneaky names such as fees and licenses. And as mentioned above, there is some debate over these Level Two taxes being quasi-taxes, or in the ballpark taxes. That's one debate.
Here's another. I used to pay a dollar a pound for hamburger and I remember it very well. Fast forward to today and I pay three times that amount - only a tiny fraction of that increase is due to inflation. The bulk of that increase has to do with ethanol subsidies. Now I'm going to skip over the connecting the dots part, just take my word for it for the sake of argument.
So now we get into Level Three taxes or what I call Hidden Taxes. These are things we pay more for than we should due to the interference of some governmental agency. And Hidden Taxes are everywhere. You can't twitch a muscle without bumping into a Hidden Tax. That $ 1.20 can of beans would cost 30 cents if it were not for the government. That $ 6 box of nails used to cost $ 1.80 a few short years ago. Don't tell me the increase in cost is just bad luck. Dodd/Frank, ObamaCare and mountains of regulations affect the manufacturer's overhead, which gets passed down to guess who?
Turns out swatting a bee hive is less dangerous than bringing up the topic of taxes, even among conservatives. Maybe I use the term "conservative" too loosely, I don't know but that's a topic for another day. Regardless, I'm sticking with my theory that we pay taxes in every way imaginable, and some not so imaginable, all due to big government.
That is my idea for the day. And I would put a picture of a light bulb right here, but we don't have light bulbs anymore.