If It Moves, Tax It

June 27, 2014

Ronald Reagan succinctly summed up the essence of government:

“If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

He meant it as an insult, not an action plan. Too bad no one told the Maryland legislature.

In yet another too frequent example of parody becoming real life, the Philistines of the Free State – incredibly, that’s Maryland’s nickname – are proposing what must rank as the most egregious tax of the century: the Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) tax.

The VMT tax would enable the state of Maryland to use GPS to determine how many miles hapless Maryland taxpayers drive within the state. Once calculated, the state would charge a fee per mile driven. It’s no wonder that people and industry have been fleeing the Free State for years. Now, when they flee, they’ll have to pay a tax per mile until the slip over the border.

What’s next? An air tax? Perhaps the Maryland government could give each resident a lung-capacity test and then create a formula to charge per liter of air inhaled? How about a vision tax? The state could dun its taxpayers for ogling historic buildings or anything else they determine as important or beautiful.

Is my imagination getting carried away? I fear I am not being creative enough. Certainly the tax extractors know no bounds. If it moves, tax it. Literally.

We’ve been conditioned to think that taxes only impact the wealthy, but this has always been a canard. All taxes hurt everybody. Any time the government decides to transfer wealth from our pockets into theirs, no one gains. Even those who dip their beak into the public trough are harmed. They might not realize it, but each time they avail themselves of someone else’s hard earned money, the dependents of society more firmly consign their future to that dependency.

There is a Secret War happening right now… The target? Your privacy!
Once there was shame in dependency. The American citizens of the Greatest Generation, survivors of World War II and the Great Depression before it, attest to the humiliation felt by those who required government assistance to make ends meet. This guilt was portrayed most vividly in the riveting biopic Cinderella Man, where boxer James Braddock reached his low point in life having to rely on relief funds to survive the winter.

Oh, how far we have fallen. Now, instead of disgrace, dependents of the state feel entitlement. The more entitled they feel, the more the rest of us have to pay up. The more we have to pay up, the more the agents of the state have to come up with creative ways to grab our money. The Maryland Vehicle Miles Travelled tax is just the most creative way… so far.

The ever-expanding tax regime has a deleterious effect on its dependents, but it is even more devastating for those who must pay each new extraction. In the case of the VMT tax, that’s anyone driving a car. Even the most talented liberal pundit can’t spin this as a tax on the rich. It’s a tax on everyone.

News flash to the atrabilious arrogators of Annapolis: the economy is in the toilet; people are barely scraping by; and we need to drive to work/church/doctors/fill-in-the-blank. We need our cars!

The reflexive response of the statists is that Marylanders should avail themselves of public transportation, as if Maryland had the subway system of New York City. As usual, their solution is no solution.

Furthermore, if businesses are required to pay a tax for each mile driven in the state, why would they possibly locate operations in Maryland? Surrounding states must be salivating at the potential business relocation possibilities.

If the VMT tax idiocy becomes law, the only new business to locate in Maryland will be a regional office of Texas Governor Perry’s “Texas Wide Open For Business” job poaching campaign.