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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Inauguration Day Madman

January 27, 2009

 

A real Associated Press headline today read:

"California Governor wants to tax golf, auto repairs"
-The AP

My immediate reaction was: "You mean that golf - the richest of rich man sports - isn't taxed?" Why that's just simply amazing!

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (REPUBLICAN) is looking at any and all means to raise money for his cash-strapped state and he has decided to do it, in part, on the backs of the "well-enough-to-do" who can afford to play a few rounds of the most frustrating game I've ever played.

A round of golf at the least expensive of courses (and I only play on - shall we say - very inexpensive courses) costs less than thirty dollars making it a very cheap form of recreation for those of us who don't mind chasing little white balls through the woods and brush. For those of us who are really, truly awful players (which is most of us, if we were to be honest), we spend almost as much on golf balls and driving ranges than we spend on the playing the actual game itself.

So taxing golf, which lays claim to acres and acres of land for the benefit of the least, sounds to me to be a great idea. Personally, I can't wait to hear all of those fat cats who pay upwards of six figures per year (plus "greens fees") to join an exclusive country club complain about paying a tax on those fees. I can hear it now:

"I guess we'll have to start drinking domestic champagne, dahling, now that Arnold has raised our taxes."

Maybe the Golf Lobby can get someone into Sacramento to talk "the Gubernator" out if it.

"Schwarzenegger wants to help close a nearly $42 billion budget deficit by taxing rounds of golf, auto repairs, veterinary care, amusement park and sporting event admissions and appliance and furniture repairs,"
-The AP

Of all of the above-listed tax ideas, the only one I happen to disagree with is the tax on veterinary care. We don't want people who might get a pet leave that animal in a shelter because someone is afraid to pay even more for the adoption. However, the rest of the above taxes make a whole lot of sense to me. I find it hard to believe that they weren't taxed to begin with.

In New Jersey and New York, for example, auto repairs, amusement parks and sporting events are already taxed. Judging by the wait for your mechanic to get to your car; the long lines at any New York area amusement park; or the six- to seven-million people each and every year who visited either Yankee or Shea Stadiums, I'd say that the tax hasn't made much of a difference.

New York Governor David Paterson (DEMOCRAT) has proposed similar taxes himself on such things as taxicab rides, MP3 Downloads, movies, concerts, etc himself, and it has hurt his popularity so much so that the media in New York is already asking who's going to run against him in 2010.

In spite of who you believe should be running New York or California, making those who can afford to pay the most pay their fair share is a good idea.

We hear things out of the Right such as "everyone has to pay their fair share," and "everyone needs to be responsible for themselves. The truth is that lower and middle income level Americans are paying disproportionately more than their fair share. Taxing luxury items such as golf is a step in the right direction.

And speaking of "fair"...

A "fair tax" plan - something the Right has been trying to get through Congress for many, many years - shouldn't mean that everyone pays the same percent in income tax. What a true fair tax plan would account for is need: The need for people to be able to keep enough of their money to purchase food, clothing and decent shelter...

And maybe a dog.

A true fair tax plan wouldn't tax any American on their first $20,000 of income; nor would it tax any family one dollar on any income up to and including the median household income (around $45,000 in today's dollars). It would, however, include a certain percentage so everyone could have health care; a certain percentage for Social Security; and a certain percentage to help those of us who can't help themselves.

And it would include taxing any dollars which are today classified as "capital gains" if that money were to bring the income for that person or family over the median income mark.

After all, fair's fair.

Taxing things like a round of golf is a good idea, but it pales in comparison to what we could be doing.

-Noah Greenberg



In response to the GOP's "Tax cuts - nothing but tax cuts," Robert W. Barker writes:

This is their mantra and anthem, their cure all for every economic ailment known to man, cut taxes to the wealthy...

It reminds me of the old so called Dr's in the dark ages that bleed you and as you weaken they bleed some more; as that is the only thing they know.

And even though they are killing the patient the blood flows to the bucket on the floor and they swear they almost cured you.

Your dead nonetheless.


Tax cuts with new jobs and booming economic times are fine.

Yet with two different wars and the bank crisis it is irresponsible to give cuts to the only ones that can pay today. They have driven a wedge between the classes and the looming gap from top to bottom is larger than any time since the Great Depression. Consumers with no cash make poor economic stimulators and the Republicans are Medieval Quacks.



Victoria Brownworth responds to Pat Thompson and Robert Pierson, MD--I'm glad I was able to articulate what so many of us were feeling and I appreciate your kind words about my column. I do think we are seeing somewhat of a sea-change in Washington. Bill Clinton made a lot of changes that George Bush overturned. Obama is turning them back to what Clinton did. It can only get better from here, I think.


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-Noah Greenberg