a conservative heretic commenting on hypocrisy and stupidity in a world with too much of both
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Traffic Cones & Taxes

“Tax reform is taking the taxes off things that have been taxed in the past and putting taxes on things that haven’t been taxed before.”
Art Buchwald

Earlier today our local Police Chief announced that in order to offset budget increases for the coming year, the police would be assessing and charging a fee for performing background checks.

I don’t mind admitting that I found his announcement annoying.

It is my understanding that part of law enforcement is crime prevention and it seems to me that part of crime prevention is performing criminal background checks on persons applying for positions to work in high-trust positions and to work with children. It made me wonder how long it would be before they started charging for showing up at the scene of a crime or an accident – when they choose to show up at all.

I almost drove off the road when the Chief tried to justify the need for this new ‘revenue tool’ because his resources are being stretched too thin.

Every day I drop Maggie off at work and every day I sit in traffic near her office as I inch my way down a two-block stretch of a downtown street that is under construction. Unfortunately, I don’t have many options so I pretty much have to take the street.

Every day, when I finally creep my way up to where the construction zone has narrowed four lanes down to two, I am reminded that there has been a serious outbreak of traffic cone thefts in the city. I’m not talking the little rinky-dink orange cones. I’m talking about those honking big orange and black things that stand about four feet high and weigh about forty pounds.

I know theft of them must have risen to crisis proportions because every day when I pass the construction zone which covers less than a small two-block stretch, I count no fewer than three police cars with lights flashing and four police officers standing around chatting with each other as they sip their coffees.

I’m not so naïve as to think they are standing there because there is a Starbucks on the corner. I know they are there to protect those cones because they don’t appear to be doing much of anything else. I know this because it takes a good ten to fifteen minutes to get passed the construction zone and I have lots of time to observe law enforcement in action.

It’s small wonder the Chief has budget issues when so many of his officers are tied up protecting traffic cones.

This isn’t a situation unique to my city. I’ve seen the same diligent protection of traffic cones in other cities and on the highway at various construction sites.

It occurred to me, simple-minded as I am, that we should not be providing free security to construction sites. Law enforcement should be out doing law enforcement type stuff and construction companies should be hiring and paying for their own security if they want to protect their cones.

Somewhere in the past two or three decades, public administration took a wrong turn.

A fundamental principal of democracy is no taxation without representation. In fact, more rebellion and head-pounding has occurred because of over-taxation than pretty much anything else other than wars between nations.

Modern democratic governments have become unbelievably adept at squandering tax money and I guess nobody really notice or cared for awhile because governments at all levels just kept raising taxes and we just kept reelecting the same people who were squandering our money.

To their credit, governments did try a couple of other ways to get their hands on some cash including borrowing a lot of money as if they had a no-limit credit card but that hasn’t worked out quite as well as they had hoped. Apparently the greedy bastards that loaned all that money to governments want it back at regular intervals and that has put government in a somewhat tenuous position. That free money came with interest charges and there was nowhere else to get money to deal with that than from – well – us, the same guys they were trying to avoid hitting up for more money.

But now, they’ve come up with a whole new concept of revenue tools – user-fees.

User -fees are how our elected representatives pass responsibility for tax increases to someone else because a government charged user-fee is just a tax by another name.

Now, our elected representatives can claim that they’ve held the line on tax increases or even reduced them while at the same time, our cost of using the services for which our taxes are supposed to pay, continue to increase.

It’s taxpayers who provide the money for politicians to build the arenas and sports facilities that they name after themselves. Part of that development is supposed to include maintenance and staffing of the facility but, of course, it never does. Before the cement in the parking lot has fully dried, the city or the province/state has already developed a full list of user-fees to charge the very people who paid to build the bloody thing in the first place.

Hospitals charge more to park than the Mob charges for the vig from a loan shark. Pretty much every form government requires us to fill out (except our income tax return, of course) has some kind of fee attached to it. There’s a great racket. Require the sheep to fill out a form so they can be sheared once they have.

Some jurisdictions, including the province in which I live and my city now charge for the ‘privilege’ of showing up at their offices to pay a tax bill, a fine or buy a permit or license with a debit or credit card. Imagine having the balls to charge people for paying you. You have to believe that there are more than a few folks in organized crime sitting around thinking, “Gee, I wish we had thought of that!”


“A tax cut to compensate for a tax increase is not a cut – it’s a con.”
Tony Abbott

The simple fact is that it isn’t merely government spending that is out of control – it’s government thinking. User-fees charged for services that we used to receive as a result of the taxes we paid are simply a different form of tax increase and they are the worst kind of increase because they are not progressive. Everybody pays the same regardless of income level or financial circumstance.

There is a prevailing belief by too many in government that you and I have control of a bottomless well from which we magically draw money. Either that or they believe we can simply pull it out of our asses to feed their annual tax-reducing budget increases.

User-fees are dishonest taxation; a shell game played by politicians and government to hide tax increases. They are taxation without representation and are, therefore, the antithesis of what democracy is supposed to be about.

I believe that there is a tax revolt coming and when it does, I intend to pop some popcorn and get a front row seat in front of the guillotine in the town square.

It occurs to me that if the people in government can’t use their heads to manage our money more efficiently, then they probably don’t need their heads and we might as well entertain ourselves watching them roll down the road passed those orange and black traffic cones.


© 2013 Maggie’s Bear

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  • CanadaGoose1

    Didn’t Nancy Pelosi just say that all the cuts that can be done have been done – the cupboard is bare. It is to laugh.
    Have to say all those background checks of the old ladies doing Meals on Wheels at a United Church in Montreal where I used to direct operations were a pain in the neck and discouraged some volunteers.

    • MaggiesBear

      I saw that interview with Nancy Pelosi and kept thinking she’d make a perfect James Bond super villain…..Pelosi Galore. I don’t think government knows what is or isn’t important anymore. They don’t cut because they don’t know where to begin. Everyone has a sacred cow and everyone is afraid this cut or that might cost them votes. It’s like riding on the train to hell. Everybody knows where the brake is and that it has to be pulled but nobody has the courage to pull it.

  • Cheryl

    I must be living in the wrong area of the province! We’ve been paying for background checks for years. I thought that was standard. And the construction companies around where I am do have to hire the officers to protect those cones. We Joe-Public people call them Rent-A-Cops but the officers prefer to call them “pay duties”. Of course, the construction company then tacks the charge back onto the bill they present to the municipality for the over-timed, over-budget roadwork they just completed, but, as the saying goes, it’s made round to go ’round. And we do live in Canada where there are only really two seasons… winter and construction.

    • MaggiesBear

      The problem with having police officers at construction sites is that because they are not all on over-time or off duty, they’re pulled from other duties. They tie up squad cars that are left running which wastes gas. This idea that the police should provide security at construction zones is relatively recent and just one more example of fuzzy government thinking.