What makes sense on Beacon Hill sounds crazy to the rest of us
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

There's common sense, and then there's government sense which makes no sense, unless you stand back far enough, using chaos theory, and find the government-think patterns.

You may have noticed those piles of snow that, if you are a person with a shovel, are higher than you can toss the next layer of the stuff you remove from the driveway. Businesses and communities here on the North Shore complain that there is no place to put it; the open space "snow dumps" are overflowing too.

Note that "North Shore" implies there is an entire ocean somewhere within range of our departments of public works. When I first moved here, the snow was pushed or dumped directly into that ocean, where it melted, dispersed and diffused itself all the way to West Africa.

Then the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act made it illegal to dump snow in the ocean. Now it sits around, blocking visibility for drivers and walkers, becoming impossible to pile, until eventually it melts and flows one way or another into the ocean.

Yet another reason why global warming is better than another Ice Age. Where would we put the additional snow, never mind the advancing glaciers?

Environmentalists argue that plowed snow contains salt, leaked motor oil and shopping carts, so it shouldn't be dumped into the ocean. I'm not making this up.

Moving right on toward summer, it's time for renewing boat registrations.

Chip Ford went online last weekend to pay $60 in this modern, supposedly more efficient manner only to be charged by the Massachusetts Environmental Police a $3 fee for paying online. So instead he sent a check and used a stamp, just like in the last century.

The MEP must pay an employee to open the envelope containing the check, deposit it, and eventually enter it in the MEP computer; while the envelope and paper checks increase environmental waste.

See, helping the environment costs money.

So Governor Patrick has an item in his budget to enhance state revenues by expanding the bottle bill, then praying that drinkers toss the bottle into the trash instead of returning it to the store because if drinkers don't get their nickels back, the unclaimed deposits will be turned over to the state to spend.

This revenue enhancement device is called "escheatage" from the medieval tradition in which property reverted to the king or feudal lord in the absence of legal heirs.

Why not just encourage more of us consumers to recycle our juice, tea and water containers ourselves? Because, dear environmentalists, if we do that, the state won't get the escheatage.

Politicians like Gov. Patrick insist they are focused on jobs and the economy. Why then do they make many businessmen wonder why they didn't just get a government job and spend their lives creating, instead of having to cope with, anti-business legislation?

Speaking of government jobs, how about those Boston firemen who take turns calling in sick so they can take turns getting overtime for filling in for each other?

I thought that scam went out with Chelsea receivership in the '80s. But students studying investigative reporting at Northeastern University discovered it's costing Boston millions in overtime.

The governor's budget is cutting local aid to cities and towns. Wonder if Mayor Menino will be calling for a Prop. 2 override, so he can explain this union scam to his property taxpayers. Or will he just lobby for higher state taxes so we can all chip in more to fund it?

Gov. Patrick and House Speaker Robert DeLeo have both stated their opposition to new taxes, and the speaker told Jon Keller on WBZ-TV Sunday morning that he doesn't support the governor's proposal to expand bottle deposits either. Still, the bills get filed by legislators who live to raise taxes.

For example: Rep. Kay Khan, D-Newton, wants to not only increase the alcohol excise tax, but to restore the extra tax on alcoholic beverages that the voters just repealed in November. Got to tax those sins, discourage those sinners.

And she wants to increase the tobacco tax again, to reduce smoking of course. Rep. George Peterson, R-Grafton, has a tongue-in-cheek amendment making tobacco illegal, thereby ending all state revenues from the cigarette excise.

Khan also wants to tax candy and sugary fruit juice. Maybe we should make soda, alcohol and sugary drinks illegal too. That would solve the container problem and be good for us too!

See state government panic. Never mind citizens' health; get more money from them because of their consumption sins!

Citizens: If you care about state services, support taxing everything. Then drink, smoke and buy more sugar in bottles and cans. Eat more candy! Die younger, thus saving on Medicaid costs!

As I said, if you stand back far enough, it all makes sense. Except for that snow removal thing keeping frozen water and salt out of the sea.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette.

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