The Way I See It!

I am an Ultra-Conservative, Alpha-Male, True Authentic Leader, Type "C" Personality, who is very active in my community; whether it is donating time, clothes or money for Project Concern or going to Common Council meetings and voicing my opinions. As a blogger, I intend to provide a different viewpoint "The way I see it!" on various world, national and local issues with a few helpful tips & tidbits sprinkled in.

Makes Sense??? NOT!

Post Office, Jim Doyle

So the U.S. Postal Service, because less and less people are using snail mail and with the rising employee benefits costs, their brain trust decided to make snail mail even slower!


U.S. Postal Service Seeks to Slow Mail Delivery


Yes that will fix it…NOT!


Yes that makes sense…NOT!


What it will do is move even more people away from snail mail thus making the situation even worse for the U.S. Postal Service.  Make the service worse and hope it fixes things.  Yeah that is how private sectors do it…NOT!


Without knowing who the brain trust is, I will guess it/they is/are a lefty.


This is the common issue of not understanding the problem thus not understanding the correct solution. 


Much like Governor Doyle increasing the Cigarette Tax and then wondering why less people are smoking and fewer taxes are collected. 



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Doyle’s biennial budget bill is chock full of tax increases whose explicitly stated purpose is to keep you from doing things your governor deems unseemly.  Doyle proposes raising the cigarette tax by $1.25 per pack, citing a study from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids that says a tax increase of $1 per pack would result in 42,000 Wisconsin adults quitting smoking.  His budget raises the fee on filing taxes by paper because he wants more people to file electronically.  Doyle proposes raising the fee on dumping trash to keep out of state businesses from dumping in Wisconsin (His budget also raises the fee on obtaining a copy of a death certificate – so if you’re thinking about dying, you might want to get that out of the way soon).


So begins a new era in Wisconsin – the era of the “coercive behavior tax.”  We are now seeing taxes with the stated purpose of motivating people into certain behaviors the government sees fit, rather than just funding necessary programs.  The government can’t make you do certain things, so they just want to make you wish you had.


The idea of using taxes to compel citizens to do things isn’t new.  For years, interest groups have pitched the idea of “sin taxes” on everything from pornography to fast food to illicit drugs (making my Friday nights way more expensive).  Environmental groups haven't made any secret of the fact that they prefer higher gas taxes, to keep people from driving more.  There’s even a bill in the Wisconsin Legislature that would raise the tax on liquor and beer – the authors argue that the liquor tax in neighboring states is generally three times higher, which of course means that ugly guys are 66% less likely to get any lovin' in Minnesota.


Yet while Doyle recognizes one basic tenet of economics – if you make something more expensive, people will do less of it – he completely ignores the flip side.  That is, if you make something less expensive, individuals will do more of it.  We could easily compel people to file their tax returns electronically by giving them a tax credit to do so – but the first thing Doyle thinks to do is to raise the fee.  This exposes the whole idea of compelling certain behaviors through tax increases as nothing more than a common cash grab.


Somehow, it’s hard to believe Doyle is as interested in keeping smoking down as he is in the $400 million the tax is expected to raise for the state.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cigarette use has declined an average of 2.3% per year since 1996, in part because “not dying” has suddenly become fashionable.  It appears society is already taking care of the smoking problem – unfortunately, stagnant cigarette tax revenues haven’t taken care of Jim Doyle’s spending addiction.


What’s also interesting is that Doyle openly recognizes that increased fees dissuade people from doing things.  Yet he only publicly acknowledges this effect for the fee increases that have been poll tested.  For instance, his budget proposes increasing the fee on applying to the University of Wisconsin.  Won’t that also have the effect of suppressing applications, just like the effect the cigarette tax increase has on smoking?  Won’t doubling the real estate transfer fee make it more difficult to buy a home?  (Although, admittedly, if the extra couple hundred bucks puts a home out of reach for you, it’s time to ask your night manager for a raise.  I mean, you have a G.E.D. – it’s time to show it off!)  Is the new hospital tax going to finally rid us of the scourge of people receiving medical treatment for their illnesses?




State choking as revenue dips on cigarettes


Wisconsin’s cigarette tax collections are going up in smoke with the leading causes including the statewide indoor smoking ban and, ironically, increases in the cigarette tax rate.


The cigarette tax will generate an estimated $24.3 million less in revenue during the current fiscal year that ends June 30 than it did the previous year.  The decline hits as Gov. Scott Walker is crafting a budget-repair bill for what he calls a “cash deficit” of $115.7 million this fiscal year and a larger deficit of more than $3 billion in the next two-year budget period.  Walker will have to make up for the drop in revenue in his budget.


The cigarette-tax figures were included in a report last week by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau to the chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, state Rep. Robin Vos (R-Burlington) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills).


The Legislative Fiscal Bureau cited the indoor smoking ban, which went into effect statewide in July 2010, as one reason for lower cigarette tax collections.  By the end of the current fiscal year June 30, the smoking ban will have been in effect for one year, noted Rob Reinhardt, a program supervisor and tax policy team leader with the bureau.


Patrons and employees of bars and restaurants can no longer smoke inside, which seems to be reducing cigarette use, Reinhardt said.


“We just thought it was an important factor,” Reinhardt said of the ban. “People are going out, but they’re not smoking as much.”



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