Years ago, I covered an East Moline City Council meeting where a fellow stood up and called for banning the sale of nonalcoholic beer to minors. He quickly added he didn’t want to ban root beer – just the stuff that tastes like the alcoholic beverage. The aldermen nodded their heads appreciatively and then debated the idea.
I remember thinking at the time, “Is this something government should be involved with?”
Some folks would have the citizenry encased in governmental bubble wrap – safe from making decisions for themselves or feeling life’s bumps and bruises. Sometimes it seems our government wants to be everyone’s mother and father.
Right now, the General Assembly is considering banning the sale of energy drinks to anyone 18 or younger.
Isn’t that a decision that should be made by parents – not lawmakers? Are we going to start stigmatizing youngsters who drink Red Bull as delinquents?
The problem with measures like this is that they diminish respect for all laws.
Want another shining example of nanny state nonsense? Illinois lawmakers are pondering this year whether to prohibit folks from driving with a dog on their lap. I’m a dog owner and a driver. But I’ve never considered allowing a dog on my lap while driving.
Admittedly, I own a Saint Bernard – but still. Government can’t legislate common sense.
That’s why I find this whole idea of prohibiting people from talking on hand-held cell phones more than a bit perplexing. How about allowing people to make decisions for themselves on when it’s safe to use a cell phone and when it’s not? Instead, we have lawmakers pushing one-size-fits-all solutions for perceived problems.
The biggest distraction in my car isn’t my Blackberry ringing. It’s my three daughters in the back seat hollering, “She hit me! Did not! Did too! Are we there yet?”
Distracted driving is the issue – not cell phones in cars.
Sadly, many lawmakers are endorsing the idea that government knows best. Back in 2000, then-Gov. George Ryan signed a bill into law requiring pet stores to warn people buying reptiles that they shouldn’t kiss snakes.
Just why someone would want to kiss a snake is beyond me. But our government thinks you need to know.
It’s about time we let those we elect know that we can take care of ourselves, thank you very much.
After all, this is the Prairie State – not the Nanny State.
Gas, hotels, video rentals – hidden taxes you might not realize you’re paying
When it comes to taxes, politicians like to be sneaky.
Sure, we all are aware of the income taxes that we file every April 15. And it’s probably not just me who flinches when the property tax bill arrives every year. But at least we know when we write out those checks to the Illinois Department of Revenue or the county tax collector that we are being taxed.
And if you are like me, you study those tax bills closely. You look to see if you are paying more than the year before and if the rate has changed.
Politicians know this. So they try to sneak taxes into places where you won’t look.
For example, if you buy gasoline in Chicago you can expect to pay taxes amounting to about 90 cents for each gallon you pump into your tank, according to the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association. The rates are less in most downstate communities – but not by much.
Illinois law prohibits service stations from advertising their prices without taxes included. It would appear politicians don’t want you to associate high prices at the pump with taxes going to federal, state and local governments. They would just assume you blame Shell, Exxon and BP for high prices – but not government.
But the pump isn’t the only place where our elected officials pack in the hidden taxes.
If you check into a hotel in Rockford you can expect to pay a 12 percent lodging tax. The General Assembly is considering allowing Winnebago County to tack on another two percentage points to that tax to pay for better sports facilities. That’s a pretty steep fee, just for the privilege of sleeping in Rockford.
Politicians in various cities like this tax because not only is it tucked away on hotel bills but it also is usually paid by people who don’t vote in the community where they pay the tax. We may be 237 years removed from July 4, 1776, but taxation without representation is still an appealing concept – for many in power.
Many elected officials are hoping Hilton, Sheridan and Ramada will bear the blame for the bigger hotel bill – not them.
Utility bills, phone bills and insurance bills are all packed full of hidden taxes, too. Why? Because politicians think you’re too dumb to catch on to that fact that government is getting a cut.
Taxes should be three things: broad, low and transparent. These hidden taxes are none of those.
The secret political appeal of hidden taxes first came to my attention back in the early 1990s when I was a young reporter covering Moline City Hall. The aldermen were looking for a place to generate revenue. They chose a 5 percent tax on all video rentals. Why? Because they didn’t think anybody would notice.
It’s time to hit the erase button on that – and every other hidden tax.
out ahead of time. But we are still waiting to see contract details involving current employees.
Quinn contends that pay raises in the contract will amount to no more than $200 million. But again, because the contract is under wraps, we are left taking his word for it.