Sunday, February 3, 2008

First they came for your shopping bags, now they're coming for your ATM receipts and chewing gum.

The New York Times is running a story entitled, Motivated by a Tax, Irish Spurn Plastic Bags. Fine, I don't have a huge problem with taxes being levied on plastic bags since there is a fairly easy solution to the problem and the government is not actually outlawing plastic bags.

However, this story illustrates what can happen when people decide to go tax crazy in the name of saving the planet:

Ireland has moved on with the tax concept, proposing similar taxes on customers for A.T.M. receipts and chewing gum. (The sidewalks of Dublin are dotted with old wads.) The gum tax has been avoided for the time being because the chewing gum giant Wrigley agreed to create a public cleanup fund as an alternative. This year, the government plans to ban conventional light bulbs, making only low-energy, long-life fluorescent bulbs available.

The light bulb thing drives me nuts and I will dedicate a post to the folly of outlawing conventional light bulbs, but when you start taxing ATM receipts you are either letting the inmates run the asylum, using environmental issues to excuse rapacious government greed, or both.

I suspect that the reason they are picking on ATM receipts is that they figure that banks have very big pockets and that they can extort money from them. Otherwise, why not go after 'polluters' like, say, The New York Times whose Sunday paper alone could be said to be far more of an environmental nuisance than ATM receipts.

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