Honolulu Lite
Charles Memminger

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Taxes, like gravity,
hard to escape

I am increasingly being stopped on the street by confused citizens who say, "Charley, as someone with your incredible understanding of economics, please explain all this sudden tax-raising that is going on?"

To these desperate people, I usually say, "Get the hell out of the way of my pickup truck." I hate being stopped on the street, especially while driving.

But these poor souls have a point. Real estate taxes are going up. So are sewer fees and motor vehicle weight taxes and the sales tax and fees for using city facilities, and, well, it has even gotten a tad confusing for someone whose education in advanced economic theory goes all the way back to my Hijacking 101 class at Aiea High School, where I taught less fortunate classmates how to increase their cash flow by allowing them to take my lunch money in lieu of beating me to a pulp.

There are so many methods being employed by our city and state elected officials to finance government that people are pleading to know exactly what is being taxed. The simple answer is, Everything.

There literally is not one aspect of our lives that now is not the subject of a new tax or fee or higher ones than existed before.

Why? Because after years of vowing to cut taxes or at least trying to keep them the same, some sort of psychosis or alien influence has taken over the minds of Hawaii politicians, which causes them to throw briefcases of paper in the air and yell, "The hell with it! Tax everything!"

The lone holdout seems to be City Councilman Charles Djou, who voted against several recent tax hikes, but I am assured that a seed pod has been placed under his desk and as soon as he nods off, his brain will be replaced by one supplied by the alien invaders. If Djou suddenly supports the increase in the excise tax to 4.5 percent, go up, knock on his forehead and say, "Hey, anybody in there?" If he doesn't answer, the seed pod has bloomed.

Even with my keen understanding of economics, I can't pretend to fathom why the fee to hook up a new home to the city's sewer system will go up to $4,780 while home sewer fees will be raised to only $41 a month. Any semiprofessional drug dealer will tell you to get your stooges hooked on the product by making it cheap upfront and then fleece them after they are hooked.

According to this theory, hooking up a house to the sewer system should be $41, and then it should cost $4,780 a month for service. Not only could we finance the world's best light-rail transit system with that kind of a sewer fee, but we could box up all the island's excrement and send it gift-wrapped to the mainland by FedEx. Think about it: Less highway traffic and no more sewage overflow into Kaneohe Bay!

To generate even more revenue, University of Hawaii scientists have been asked to discover new things to tax. After extensive study they reported that other than a Gecko Cohabitation Fee based on the number of lizards you have running around in your house, there seems to be nothing left in Hawaii to tax.

On a positive note, the researchers said they have developed a way to squeeze blood from turnips. Of course, with taxes going up on both blood and turnips, the impact of this development is debatable.

Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail cmemminger@starbulletin.com

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