As the political circus continues, I am reminded of one of the assigned management readings back in college. The premise was that we’re sometimes more successful when we say something different than what we mean. Oddly most of the examples involved politicians.
A politician who announces that he or she is in favor of better education is going to receive positive marks from many voters. On the other hand, a politician who honestly states that he or she is in favor of raising taxes to support better education is not going to be perceived as well. Go figure. One of the examples the cited was when Richard Nixon stated that he has a “secret” plan for getting America out of Vietnam. Like making sausage, people want the end result without having to watch the process.
The big political brouhaha today is, of course, taxes. Now don’t get me wrong. I dislike taxes as much as the next guy. I know I dislike them more than people who pay less than I do. I don’t want to pay one more cent of taxes per gallon of gas! Unfortunately, I do want to have roads that are free of potholes and able to handle rush hour traffic.
Around here they’ve avoided raising the tax on gasoline for quite some time and the road system isn’t up to snuff. Every election, some clown’s ads bemoan how the opponent was in favor of increasing a tax to pay for roads (or even worse – wait for it – schools!)
In these parts the biggest highway issues involve bridges over and tunnels under the various waterways. Roads are expensive, but bridges and tunnels far more so. Apparently we all like living by the water but we don’t like paying for bridges and tunnels. Since the politicians cannot or will not raise the money to support the bridges and tunnels that are needed, there are two alternatives. 1) Do without or 2) To partner with private corporations who will build bridges and tunnels and charge a toll to recoup their investment.
You can imagine the hue and cry over imposing tolls; especially since the only logical way to pay for an additional tunnel from point “A” to point “B” is to charge tolls on the existing tunnel as well as the new one. People around here are very crafty when it comes to alternate routes without tolls.
Again, I dislike taxes. However, it is the usual and customary requirement that if I want something, I have to pay for it. I want a nice meal I have to pay for it whether I eat out or at home. However, when it comes to roads, schools or whatever, people perceive it as something different.
It seems that culturally we now believe that if it is something for ME I’m willing to pay for it. On the other hand, if it’s something we’re going to share, then I think someone else should provide it.
“It’s mine and you can’t have it!”
Sounds like the typical reaction of a two or three year old.
Some people have developed advanced weasel skill and try to figure out how to get what they want and stick someone else with the tab. A great example is the various taxes that get tacked onto hotel bills. Let those out-of-towners pay for my stuff. Since the taxes are added on after the fact, we can still quote the room rate at the pre-tax level. It must be okay, since everybody does it – hotels, airlines, cell phone companies… No one says, “And if these big companies jumped off the Empire State Building, would you jump too?”
Of course these are the same people who gripe about the greedy S.O.B.s who put all those taxes on the hotel bill when they spend time out of town.
But back to roads.
My commute includes about 15 minutes in which I’m stuck in stop-and-go traffic. I have to wonder if the amount of gas all of us in that traffic jam burn up while just sitting doesn’t cost a lot more than the amount of tax that would be needed to keep the transportation system working properly. It costs me about $34 to fill my tank once a week. I probably waste a gallon of gas stuck in traffic each week. That’s the same as an additional 33 cents per gallon of gas. If I were paying 10 cents a gallon in additional tax to pay for roads, I’d save almost $20 per year, not to mention the fact that I would get home 15 minutes sooner every day.
I still hate taxes, but I understand that we makes our choices and we pays our fees.
Of course I’d still grumble about taxes even if I was driving home at the speed limit, over a new bridge, without tolls – but my heart wouldn’t be in it.