One of the many drags about owning a home in the suburbs rears its ugly head around this time a year. Raking leaves is awful drudgery, everyone knows, and here in the middle of November, I’ve already put it off for several weeks longer than I should have. But as I was raking I realized that I was living a stealth tax imposed on me by my local government.
You know how it goes, I’m sure. Fall arrives and those millions, no billions, of those darn leaves fall from their proper places on your trees’ outstretched branches and in their magnanimity lay there for you to rake up and dispose of.
In many towns across America these nuisance leaves are raked into piles and a match is put to them. Homeowners simply burn them to get rid of them. But in many towns, there is a law against disposing of your yard waste by burning. My town is one of the latter.
So, what are you required to do if you can’t burn them? You must spend hours raking your leaves into piles and then you must stuff them into large paper bags that can be bought at local stores.
And there is the hidden tax. It is an “unfunded mandate,” if you will. You see, my city has forced me to waste my money buying these big paper bags and, worse, waste my time stuffing leaves into them.
My city has just taken money out of my pockets by forcing me to buy yard waste bags. My city has also forced me to waste my valuable time to bag them, time that would have been cut in half were I allowed to simply burn them.
Now, I do have the option to just leave those leaves on the ground and not pick them up at all, thereby saving my money and time. But, guess what? The city won’t let me do that, either. If I do so the city drives by and leaves a kind note that they will fine me if I don’t clean up my yard.
If I continue to ignore them? They come over and clean my yard for me and, naturally, charge me for the pleasure.
In other words, I really don’t have the option not to spend the money on the bags and the time in filling them.
Since the city doesn’t buy the bags for me, this “law” is a tax that the city doesn’t admit that it is charging me.
Of course, many left-wingers will point to my expenditure and say it is a positive for the community. After all, I have to buy the bags, right? And that purchase helps out the local stores. But this is a classic fallacy. It is called the “broken windows fallacy.”
But the truth is I could have spent that money and time on better things if the government hadn’t forced me to do its bidding.
There are thousands of taxes like this, too. Your city may call them “fees,” but that is just another way to spell tax.
Remember, our founders fought a war against a 2 cent tax.