Vail Daily columnist Richard Carnes: All taxes are stupid*
“We pay too much in taxes!” shouted my friend for the entire bar to hear.
“Really?” I asked in a hushed tone, hoping to bring the audio down a notch. “How much did you pay last year?”
“Um, hell, I don’t know. I just know it’s too damned much! ObamaCare and his cronies are gonna be the death of us all! Down with taxes!”
He wanted to shout. I wanted to leave. But his beer was still half full (or was it half empty?), so I had to ask the obvious.
“Let me make sure I have this right. You think you pay too much in taxes, but you don’t know how much you pay.”
“Damn straight!” he quickly responded, perhaps not thinking the sentence through.
“How about amendments 60, 61 and prop 101 that we’re voting on in a few weeks?”
“Do they lower taxes?”
“Yep, quite significantly in certain areas, and most local and state government agencies will not be able to borrow money or impose new taxes without saying ‘pretty please’ to the voters first.”
“All they gotta do is say ‘pretty please’?”
“No, you moron. I mean they have to put it to a vote in most cases.”
“Well then, I’m IN!” he again shouted, this time combining it with a quick jump out of his chair.
The nice bartender had attentively turned up the music, thus drowning out most of my friend’s vocal exuberance.
“Good for you. I’m ecstatic you’ve made a decision, even if it’s one that could have disastrous effects for the world as we know it.”
“What’s that?” he asked, slowly returning to the chair.
“According to some, voting ‘yes’ on any of the three could be voting ourselves into another Colorado-specific recession, one that will make the last one seem like a mere blip on the radar.”
“But, why? And what’s a blip on a radar?”
“If the last recession was a light dusting on top of the Gore, then this next one could be a two-foot dump.”
“Cool, I love two-foot dumps!”
“Nevermind. Look, you need to research to see what the real ramifications are, or could be, if any or all three of these issues pass or fail. Both sides are either grossly oversimplifying or vastly overstating the possible effects from voting the ‘wrong’ way.”
“If it takes taxes away, then I’m all for it, bro.”
“Oh, really? What if those taxes pay for something you want? Like, say, police or fire protection or one of your kid’s favorite teachers or repairing that pothole in front of your driveway or a safe food supply or clean water to drink or …”
“Well, duh, I don’t want the good tax stuff to go away – just the bad tax stuff.”
“I’m not your bro,” I said, tossing a Benjamin on the bar as I headed for the door. Some things people just need to figure out for themselves.
(*Except the taxes we need.)