Monday, January 25, 2016

A very good friend of mine is an Army veteran who received his honorable discharge more than a few years ago. He has been retired for many more years than I have known him. He says he wants me to speak at his funeral but the way he is going he well may outlast me. There are so many great things I can say about Sarge Eveland. On more than one occasion I have been his guest at the local senior center for breakfast or dinner. His commitment to our armed forces is always evident from his chosen nickname, "Sarge," to the way he speaks about our armed forces. The other day he brought a slip of paper into the office. "You're just the guy I want to see," he told me. Something got him thinking about taxes and he wrote up a list of taxes he would have no problem raising. I agreed with him and he asked me to write it up as a letter to the editor. We don't do things that way but because of our long friendship, I agreed to do so if he would look it over and be sure it was what he wanted to say. "No, you just write it up," he said. "I trust you. Sign my name to it or yours, it doesn't matter." Well, I'm not about to write a letter to the editor and put another man's name on it but I submit to you his list for your consideration. He suggests taxing: •Expensive Champaign $1 •Beer $1 per six-pack, otherwise 25 cents per bottle •Other alcohol $1 per bottle •Lottery tickets 2 cents each •Soft drinks, Coke $1 and 10 cents to 25 cents per can •Add 5 cents per pack to cigarettes •Add 25 cents to each cigar, $1 to each box of cigars •Add 25 cents to each package of bulk tobacco I said I agreed with him on this list. It's because I do not buy a lot of them. Oh, I like to have a beer with my son once in a while (he buys). The soda tax would kill me, though. I like my diet Pepsi too much. He leaves wine off the list. That's good, because I enjoy a glass (not a box) of wine from time to time. The other day I heard an elected official recommend raising the gasoline tax to provide more money for roads. That might be OK, now that gas prices are down to less than $2 per gallon, but what happens when they go back up, as you know they will. I guess I look at it this way: You can raise all the taxes you want as long as I'm not affected. I think Sarge is primarily interested in raising what used to be called "sin tax," taxes on things that are not good for us. "The West Wing" remains one of my favorite TV series and its creator, Aaron Sorkin does a great job in my opinion. I know he captured the spirit of the newsrooms in which I have worked in his HBO series, "The Newsroom." I have not working in New York City but newsrooms in small towns can become pressure cookers, too. So, I have to assume the White House's West Wing, where governing takes place, is accurately portrayed in "The West Wing." During an episode of the show, one of the President's minions explained Democrats believe in helping people through coercion. Well, maybe not coercion as much as taxation. In other words, if you want people to drive less, raise taxes on gasoline so they are discouraged from driving. That was not the theory behind my county councilman friend's reason to raise gas tax; he want to fix county roads. If I were not in need of a car, or Amish, I might not care about gas taxes. In fact, I might favor them as long as the road in front of my house or business was improved. But don't raise taxes on anything I use, please!