According to an LSJ article posted this morning; “Drivers can afford gas tax increase.” Kirk Steudle, Director of the State Department of Transportation, believes that a tax increase to save over 125 road projects only add up to 16 cents per motorist per week. He likens the tax to “a stick of gum.” His reasoning is that if individuals can afford to spend $2-$4 on a cup of coffee, why should they be concerned about 16 cents. But is this really the time to increase any tax? We’re in an economic crisis. Every penny in the economy is a penny endowed to an individual for a purpose. It represents the hard earned work of someone. If we judge the power of a tax based on what we think is affordable for 1 human being, we miss the bigger picture. As Larry Reed once said, “Sound policy requires that we consider long-run effects and all people, not simply short-run effects and a few people” (reference here). I wonder how many businesses run entirely off of the “pennies” of others (e.g. the gum industry). Any time we increase the overall share of the government over our pennies, we decrease the overall share of other industries by the same measure. If “penny businesses” like gum start to go under due to “penny tax increases” in a time of crisis, what will that say about us? Will that cause assurance or fear with regards to our economy? If we can’t demonstrate responsibility with our pennies, how can we demonstrate responsibility with anything else? The American economy was built on the hard earned pennies of the persecuted, and they deserve to be upheld with the highest esteem. Our “golden door” seems to be tarnishing.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door! – Lady Liberty