Clean up your act

With states now looking toward cities for extra income during these troubling taxing times, it will not be long before municipalities muster up the gusto to grab any and all things possible through taxes and fines, leaving many to wander aimlessly about in search of a half-eaten apple or pit of a peach.

The other day, while enjoying a large glass of iced tea, I managed to overhear a conversation at the next table. It was so animated that I would have needed earphones and rockingly loud music to mask their mirth. I did not want to move, as I was comfortable reading the newspaper, so I gently listened along, trying to get to the core of what was consuming them with merriment.

I inched my eyebrows over the newspaper to view the four during their last clap of laughter, thunderous in its gaiety. As I do not like to gossip, I will not divulge in which city department they worked, but it would be fair to say that your taxes keep them flush with cash, seen often by doctors, dentists and ophthalmologists and allow them a co-pay not much larger than a gnat.

As I had been late to their fun-filled afternoon, it took me a minute to figure out what they found so funny. "¦ Lo, it was taxes upon the residents. They had already agreed that the Meals Tax would be a go for another 20 years, keeping them in ale and meat pies for the rest of their lives. The larder was soon to be overstocked, necessitating that another one be constructed with, of course, no plans, permits, fees desired or needed.

To keep the boat afloat, they invented new streams of revenue, chuckling heartedly all the while. Here are a few samples that I think I heard over their shrieks and the thumping they gave the table with their fists:

An ice tax of 5 cents per cube to discourage compressor usage. When one suggested that electric rates would have to be increased due to a decrease in demand, they all nearly fell off of their chairs. Such was their cunning at arriving at a neatly packaged double tax.

Then came the random trash/recycling inspection, which was to be fed live so the whole town would learn its lesson. As we all know, once your trash leaves your property, you no longer have any rights or privacy about what you have tossed. The concept was that your trash be gone through to find any misfiled or illegal items. After your offense was calculated and the amount of the fine determined, it would be automatically added to your utility bill, but only after your name, address and DMV photo was broadcast with a strict warning about your slovenly nature.

If you are one of the scoundrels of waste, then the wooden toothpick tax will clean up your wallet. A nickel a toothpick might not sound like much, but in the spirit of community cohesiveness, using once-grand stands of trees to put the pinch on clumps of trapped food is a good way to clean up financially.

It was not long before a grass tax was mentioned. You would be encouraged to let the lawn die, though still being charged for an estimated amount of water based on summer consumption. This restriction would only last for two years, though might be extended, without a vote, for another 30 years if the money was really, really needed for conferences, consultants and catering. Hardly a quicker way to bring in the green.

The revenue idea that nearly caused me to fall out of my chair was the carbon footprint tax, noble in intent though intrusive in practice. A Carbon Footprint Enforcement Officer would inspect every room, closet and drawer in your house, then give the garage a once over. As part of the process you would be required to provide identification, as you would be run through the database for outstanding warrants, judgments, overdue taxes and parking tickets.

I think that I will turn myself in and confess. I own a pair of leather shoes. was last seen loading the clothes dryer, which, I believe, will soon be banned in Ashland. If you have heard similar ideas on revenues streams, cast them to Lance.

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