The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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July 21, 2012

July 21, 2012 Letters to the editor: Lynn R. Allen

Another take on fees

While I might disagree with Neil Frieder’s use of the adverb “maybe” for the verb “may be,” he does think outside the box as well as above and below the fold. I like that. In his June 7 editorial, “If it looks like a tax, smells like a tax, walks like a tax, it maybe a fee,” he exhibited all three.

As he says, taxes and fees (as well as licenses, fines and $5 copies of public documents) are money the Government sucks out of citizens for things we need. In the private sector such things are called “fees for service” or “suggested retail price.” OK, I get it. Call it what you will, the proper word is “revenue.” It’s the basis of a modern economy. Without some form of income you can’t operate a business, government, school or even rent an apartment. Changing the name doesn’t change the game, as Mr. Frieder showed us.

Some rich “Conservatives” would like to see government services “privatized.” That means they could use inflated dollars to buy up what Americans invested years to taxes in (like the National Weather Service, the interstate highway system and the postal service). Then they can charge whatever they want for things we need. It would be like 18th century Europe, where the rich owned everything. The gouging wouldn’t be called “taxes,” it would be billed as “service charges.” But you would pay or go without, with no vote on who owned what.

When my tenth grandfather was a New Marlborough, Mass., selectman in 1690, he was an unpaid volunteer. Cash was in short supply, so possessions or labor were traded for “needful things.” When the township needed someone to build a road or dig a grave, they paid for it with corn, cider, livestock, sometimes land. If a man was fined for swearing on Sunday, he’d pay with a pig or spend a week locked in the stocks.

American admittedly hated taxes, and my seventh and sixth grandpas fought and won a revolution over it. But after gaining freedom from Britain, they still needed goods and services that weren’t free. And they made a choice — for a stable system of laws and services, they would agree to be taxed. But now that it was their country, they could vote on the details.

Lynn R. Allen


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