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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 25, 2013/ 16 Tamuz, 5773

An E-Z Fix

By Peter Funt








http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | My grandfather used to tell a story about a fellow who proposed to end poverty by taking half of the rich folks' money and giving it to the poor. Asked how this was being received, the man said, "I checked with the poor and they're willing."

I thought about that as I drove into Manhattan, encountering the highest state gasoline tax in the nation, some of the stiffest highway and bridge tolls anywhere, and previously unheard of fees to park on New York City streets. I haven't had time to survey the poor, but I assume they'd favor a more equitable system.

The fact that taxes add roughly 35 cents per gallon more in New York state than in neighboring New Jersey, that a round trip across the George Washington Bridge costs $13.00, and that parking on the streets of Manhattan is priced up to $5.00 an hour should remind us not simply that things are expensive these days, but that flat taxes and government fees are, per se, unfair to the less affluent.

As a nation, we support progressive income taxes yet fail to apply the same fairness to a growing list of other taxes and fees. Where I live, in Monterey, Calif., there is now a mandatory 25-cent charge to obtain a paper bag in retail establishments. Such government-imposed fees - in this case for the laudable purpose of protecting the environment - mean little to the wealthy but weigh heavily on the poor.

The drive into Manhattan, if done twice a week for a two-hour visit by someone earning $26,000 a year, would amount to a 10 percent tax relative to his entire income. For someone making $250,000 annually, the same trips result in an effective tax of one-tenth of one percent.

In Virginia, they've just opened new express lanes on I-495. But these aren't typical HOV lanes, where carpooling is the only thing rewarded; these lanes are open to any motorist who wishes to zip along faster by paying a toll. It's a shameful way to make public highways more accessible to the wealthy.

In Oregon, they're testing a new toll program using GPS in which motorists pay according to how many miles they drive - about 1.8 cents per mile. This distorted view of "fairness," just like the notions of a national sales tax or flat income tax favored by conservatives, is regressive.

Not all government fees can be easily converted to a progressive system, but E-ZPass technology used throughout the Northeast might hold the key. Toll rates, and even gas taxes and parking fees, could vary based on the value of the car in which a transponder is installed.

Several states in the E-ZPass system already offer discounts to seniors and owners of low-emission vehicles. Some locales are also experimenting with E-ZPass for use in gas stations and parking lots. Why not base all related taxes on the ability of a motorist to pay?

Charging several dollars per hour to park on a public street may seem like a good way to reduce congestion and increase revenue, and it is - if you're willing to effectively make such parking available to only those who can afford it. Allowing affluent motorists to avoid traffic delays by paying a fee to use express lanes may strike some as fair, but it discriminates against the poor.

We are increasingly a nation of haves and have-nots, with a shrinking middle class. It's regrettable that at every turn in the road, so to speak, we impose fees that serve to widen the gap.


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Previously:


06/11/13 Mister, Mister
06/04/13 Branded


© 2013, Peter Funt. Columns distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate

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