The Walking Cure: Paper or plastic? It doesn’t matter, they just want our money

With the economy continuing to spiral downward, our politicians are in panic mode. Expected revenues are down. Way down. So what’s a government body to do with less money to spend? Spend even less? No way. Find more revenue, of course. This is where every rock, or in this case, each couch cushion is checked for change. Anything that is not subject to tax just may be in the not-so distant future.

Some of the ideas would actually be funny if the folks proposing them weren’t serious. In 2003, the Labour Government of New Zealand proposed a “Flatulence Tax.” The plan was to tax farmers 9 cents a year for each mature sheep, and 54 cents a year for each mature cow or dairy animal,” Of course, they never call it what it is, a money grab. It’s usually some great cause that no one can oppose like children. In this case, it’s the environment. Only after much outrage and public outcry was the idea abandoned. Or maybe not.

Fast forward to 2008 and once again the flatulence tax is back on the table or in the air or whatever. You see methane is by far the biggest global warming polluter in New Zealand, about half the total. And New Zealand, seeing itself as a good global citizen, committed itself to reduce its global warming emissions to 1990 levels. Hence the “tax” as farmers rightly called it. In fact, a “fart tax” - fart, standing of course, for the Fight Against Ridiculous Taxes.

In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended expanding the sales and use tax to include “luxury” items, such as veterinary services. Animal welfare advocates are joining forces and urging pet owners to take action and contact the governor and state legislature to stop this tax.

“Our companion animals are family members and taking care of their health is a responsibility, not a discretionary spending decision like golf or furniture repair,” said Judie Mancuso, president of Social Compassion in Legislation. “No other medical professions were included in the sales tax proposal, and with record numbers of families already making the unfortunate choice to abandon their pets because they cannot afford them in today’s economy, the last thing we need to do is increase medical costs.”

Because of the poor economy and home foreclosures, shelters across the nation have been seeing an increase in animal intake. The fear is this new tax would cause some pet owners to relinquish their pets to shelters because they could not afford the proper care.

Here in Northwest Ohio, we have our own crazy ideas and some not-so crazy to raise revenues, during a time when many of us are struggling with our own budgets.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has recently sent out a “trial balloon” to gauge reaction on a plastic bag tax. The idea, all in the name of the environment and our landfill, is to levy a 5 cent tax on plastic bags we get from grocery stores and other retailers. The mayor is stealing the idea from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. New York hopes to garner some $16 million for the city, all the while keeping the plastic bags, which are recyclable, out of the landfills. At least for now it is not a part of the 2009 budget proposal.

This would be just one more reason for people to shop outside of Toledo. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe 5 cents plus, another penny to the retailer is no big deal. What happens if we make a major shift back to paper? Will they extend the tax to that, too? I wish the environmentalists would make up there mind and tell us what we should use to carry our groceries.

Check out more interviews

Send your T-mails to

No votes yet