Saturday, April 9, 2011


Recently, I noticed an insurance ad on television in which the speaker asked, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound?”  He reasoned that it did.  

This got me to thinking about the ever-present pledge of conservative members of the Legislature about no new taxes.  

The question comes to my mind, if it’s not called a tax, is it a tax, even though it takes money out of taxpayers’ pockets?

You would never get our governor or his trusty followers to admit that raising fees is tantamount to imposing a tax.  Representative Harvey Hildebran, Chairman of the Revenue and Tax Committee, seems to indicate in his remarks that at some point a fee could rise to the level of a tax. Hmmm.

In fact, the Legislature, in all probability, will raise the cost of your hunting and fishing license, your driver’s license, cost of your insurance and will increase the state charge on local criminal fines.  The governor’s definition of tax seems to be – “It’s only a tax if you call it a tax.”  The Legislature is not calling a tax on the additional fee for a stamp to hunt reptiles, nor college tuition, nor enhanced criminal fines.  Those are just considered fees.  

All of this has given me a bright idea about how we might improve the revenue income of the state. 

What we simply need to do is enact an “earnings fee” whereby anyone earning money in Texas must pay a 1.5% fee on those earnings.  Of course, it would not be a tax because we’d call it a fee.  It only applies to those people who choose to earn money in Texas.   

I’m certain those who differ with me will say it is still an income tax.  Well, it’s no more a tax than calling a fee raising tuition on college students a fee and not a tax.

You can always find interesting things to write about simply by looking at the litany of bills introduced in the Legislature.  For a session that has absolutely pledged in blood to enact no new taxes, there are probably over 250-300 bills introduced having to do with new taxes.  Most of them, however, apply only to consumers, not to the filthy rich.  

For example, there’s going to be a new tax on beer and chewing tobacco.  Last time I checked, most millionaires in Texas don’t chew tobacco and are more inclined to drink champagne than beer.  One of the more interesting proposals is to add a sales tax on oil field port-a-potties and certain other portable buildings connected with the oil patch.

I doubt seriously if there are many millionaires using port-a-potties, no matter where they might be. 

Other things I find interesting in this session of great financial need for the state are proposals to exempt school art supplies and certain guns and ammunition used for hunting.  Upon reflection, however, this probably makes sense as to the guns, but not to the art supplies.  

At the rate we’re going, with all the fees being raised by these conservative Republicans, many Texans are likely to have to resort to hunting game to put food on their tables.  

Exempting the art supplies for schools, however, does not make sense in that we are about to fire so many teachers--so what good will it do to have art supplies for the school and no teacher to show kids how to use them?  

There are many other silly things in the tax code I’ve never been able to see the logic of.  

Giving big oil companies huge tax breaks at a time they’re making record profits and classifying country clubs as agricultural endeavors to give them a bigger tax break than the average homeowner in Texas make no sense to me. 

Then again, what do I know?

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha! Earnings fee. Spot on work!

    Unbelievable what the current crop of pols will do in order to raise revenues without "raising taxes."

    This does begs to ask the question, whether the cost of a drivers license/state ID does go up or not, and with the new voter ID law on the books, isn't the new law tantamount to a poll tax? While state elections are not restricted from poll taxes by the Constitution, federal elections are per the 24th Amendment. Is there a challenge to the Voter ID law in Texas possible on these grounds?

    I hate to point fingers... but it is way too easy! Exempt art supplies but fire the art teachers... You would think, HOPE, that Texans, let alone America, would wise up and see whose side many pols, mostly the "R"s, are on but will the continued dumbing down of this country and of this great state it fills me with fear and loathing that this isn't going to get better until it's tragic outcome.

    And by all means, spread the word to those on the Christian Right you know... Read the Bible, the Sermon on the Mount. It's no secret. Jesus was a *GASP* Liberal!


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