Thursday, June 16, 2011

Welcome to PA, that'll be 50 cents

Being from the South, it's taken me a while to adjust to taxes, tolls, and political cash grabs. It's not that Red states are any stranger to fees and corruption, but they look you in the face when they f*ck you.

A lot of people got worked up over a 2 cent per ounce tax on soda. I hate Nanny Laws, so I'm one of them. But there was a much darker demon waiting in the shadows so the quest to save my afternoon Big Gulp quickly expired. 

It's surprising how well City Hall played us this time. The soda tax was a brilliant wedge issue to throw to the dogs while the city worked on a 3.5% property tax increase that seems a lot more viable. 

If soda is that important, you can always buy your groceries in NJ. But unless you plan on living on a houseboat or parking your RV on North Broad, you're going to have a hard time avoiding property taxes.  

And with BRT in limbo deciding what to become, it's hard to say what will happen when they decide to reassess some of these homes that haven't been appraised since Truman was President. 

I like a level playing field. How about lowering taxes and reassessing the city's housing stock to their current market value? I know the home I rent is worth more than $1, but I'm pretty sure that's how it's taxed.

But that's not how we do things in PA. I remember when I lived in Portland, OR, the government had an unofficial motto: "We do things differently here." So do we, but we sure don't yield the same results. What's really amusing is while City Hall and Harrisburg screw us time and time again, they still have the courtesy to leave a note on the nightstand. Their rationale is often more amusing than the tax.

Soda tax is aimed at the "please think of the children" crowd, but isn't even remotely designed to have any affect on the consumer. If the tax isn't applied at the register it will be diluted throughout the store. Consumers won't even know they're paying the tax and obese children will still get their bottle of diabetes. 

How stupid does Mayor Nutter think we are? He's like a junkie with a sob story. I'll give a bum money if he tells me it's for weed, but if you're going to piss on my leg and tell me it's raining, screw off, I'll vote for Karen Brown.

None of this nonsense is new, and it's certainly not unique to Pennsylvania. But it brings up the classic story of the Johnstown Flood Tax. After the Johnstown Flood of 1936, the state imposed an emergency - and allegedly temporary - 10% tax on alcohol. Today, 75 years later, that tax is at 18%. 

It's not surprising that former New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin, on a trip to Philadelphia following Hurricane Katrina researching ways to address flight and abandonment, commented that New Orleans was bad, but not as bad as us...after Katrina!  

It's hard to take pride in a city and state when your elected officials act like they don't want you here.

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