Today’s Stealth Tax Story

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.

CBS Praises Obama for Hurricane Sandy Visit, Attacked Bush for Katrina Visit
CNN Uses Faked Palestinian 'Casualty' Video in Coverage
  • 914

    I have raked twice already. Darn oak tree. Luckily no tax here yet anyways. I just push them down to the river bank and then the wind whips up on cue within days and spreads them out again.

    Good exercise and fresh air though.

    • Gmacr1

      Heh, around here you can’t tell that a yard’s been raked 24 hours later.

  • Carl

    What an arrogant ass?

    What exactly gives you the right, Todd, to burn your leaves rather than dispose of them in a more ecological manner?

    • UOG

      Actually, Warner said he’s town DOES NOT allow burning. Whasamata kid, you can’t read?

      As to the ecological impact of burning leaves, your comment was unnecessary. We already understood you’re an asshole.

      • Carl

        Gawd, now we have someone who is even more stupid than Jim.

        Amazing. I guess Tod the Wad draws the best from all over the web.

    • jim_m

      Forest fires are unecological according to Carl, despite the fact that they have gone on for millennia.

      Carl, do us all a favor and stop increasing atmospheric CO2.

      • Carl

        I don’t recall saying a word about forest fires. Hmmm, guess Jim is making up crap again.

        • jim_m

          Gee Carl. If burning leaves is not ecological it stands to reason that burning the whole tree is equally a not ecological. It also stands to reason that since no one rakes the fallen leaves in a forest that fallen leaves also burn in a forest fire. Hence, your statement that burning leaves are not ecological (since you claim that other solutions would be more ecological) requires that forest fires are also not ecological (or at least less ecological than your ignorant environmentalist interventions).

          Your claim is that artificial interventions are “more ecological” than the natural functioning of the environment. That is nonsense. Of course, you probably had no realization that you were making that argument because you never really gave a single thought to what you were saying.

    • 914

      What give’s you the right to vote for taxing Americans out of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

      That’s right, you feel like it… Well, I may feel like burning some leaves… Live with it!

    • herddog505

      As opposed to putting them in paper bags (where do the come from, by the way?) so that a truck can come by to take them elsewhere?

      Incidentally, I suggest that he has – or ought to have – the right to dispose of his property (the leaves) in such a manner as he sees fit consistent with public health and safety.

      • Carl

        And burning them is a safety and pubic health issue – but Todd isn’t adult enough to accept responsibility and do the right thing without being forced to do it by the government.

        You see, if it weren’t for childish crybabies like Todd, we’d need a lot less government intervention.

        • herddog505

          Homeowners have been burning leaves for centuries. Yes, this certainly CAN be a safety / health issue, but it is not necessarily one. Further, there are ways to dispose of leaves other than having the homeowner shell out for special paper bags; one I’m familiar with is a large “vacuum” truck that sucks them up at the curb.

          I suggest that what might be happening here is not the benevolent government forcing a grumpy, obstinate homeowner to do the right thing, but rather a clumsy government shoving a one-size-fits-all solution down a homeowner’s throat.

    • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

      What right have you to tell someone else what they can and cannot do on their property?

  • UOG

    First, I live in a hardwood forest so don’t try to tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about.

    Get a good mulching mower. When the falling fall foliage gets ahead of you attach the bag to your mower. Use the bagged, chopped leaves to build a compost heap in a less obvious corner of your yard. Alternatively you could build an enclosure from privacy fencing around your compost heap. Once the compost heap gets going use its product to top-dress your lawn, you won’t need to fertilize as often.

    You’re too old to be raking, that’s kids’ work. And paper bags are for groceries.

    • Commander_Chico

      There’s an intelligent solution.

    • Tanuki Man

      And a leaf vac for lesser properties. The mulched leaves make fine compost when I cut them into some of the poor soil on my little postage stamp of a property.

  • http://twitter.com/Stephen_Macklin Stephen_Macklin

    I was pondering the idea of time spent as a tax payment recently as I stood impatiently feeding cans into a machine at the grocery store so I could get my nickles back.

    • UOG

      Yeah, recycling aluminum makes about as much sense as picking a scab off a wound.

      • MunDane68

        Err…no.

        Each aluminum can can be made into a new aluminum can for about 5% the cost of a can made from new aluminum.

        Glass and plastic recycling…those are pretty much feel good tree huggery.

        • Vagabond661

          I like how we spend time sorting our recyclibles (and in many places, fined if I don’t), pay taxes so a recycle truck can come by and pick it up, sell the recycled material (I don’t get any money back from this by the way) to a company who remanufactures it to something that I pay 2-3 times if it was just made of some other material.

          Hidden taxes! They are the greatest!

          • jim_m

            I pay the same regardless of whether I recycle or not. It’s all the same bill and there is no benefit to recycling more. SO I don’t recycle at all. Screw em.

            Watch at 3:38 for views on recycling

        • UOG

          Pretty sure that 5% figure includes no consumer (societal) costs and is based only on industry’s direct costs.

          In my case the State I live in nicks me for a nickel every time I buy a drink in an aluminum or glass container. If I want my nickel back I have to return the container. My time, storage and transportation costs (two ways on that one) are not included. “Storage costs, what storage costs?” I wait until I have several hundred containers for return… it’s a long way from da’ woods to the recycling center.

  • Commander_Chico

    Yeah, I agree with Warner. Here’s another outrageous example – I had to buy this thing called a “toilet” for the house I built — when I could just shit in the street for free.

    That’s an unfair stealth tax!!!

    • Vagabond661

      Actually we had toilet and a septic tank. But we were forced to hook up to city sewer at the tune of $7000. Thank goodness we only had one toilet because the more we had the more we were going to be charged!

      That was a unfair tax!

      • Vagabond661

        THEN the city charged me to take my sewage! Oh those guys!

      • Commander_Chico

        The BBC tells me that today, November 19, is World Toilet Day.

        http://www.worldtoiletday.org/

        I’ve already celebrated by dropping a big one.

        • Vagabond661

          Oh now, I would bet you have plenty more.

    • Carl

      In my town the gumminent makes me put my trash in large containers and FORCES ME TO PUT THEM ON THE CURB ONCE A WEEK — and then they MAKE ME PAY FOR THE REMOVAL of my very own trash. MY TRASH, not the GUMMINENTS TRASH.

      I’m outraged -ous.

      • 914

        “and then they MAKE ME PAY FOR THE REMOVAL of my very own trash. MY TRASH, not the GUMMINENTS TRASH.”

        With all the money we are gouged, all the government trash should have been in the landfill years ago.

    • warnertoddhuston

      (To CC) With all the crap that comes out of you on a daily basis, a toilet is the least thing you should have to buy.

      • Commander_Chico

        What kind of reply is that after I agreed with you?

        • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

          A well deserved one.

  • http://www.outsidethebeltway.com rodney dill

    If your houses where you live are in close proximity, it’s not just the city that wants you to bag your leaves and not burn them. If you’ve had anyone burning leaves make your house (inside) wreak you know what I mean.

    • Idahoser

      yeah ‘reek’ wouldn’t be fun but it’s also a safety hazard if the houses are close. F the environment, it’ll take care of itself just fine.

  • herddog505

    Where does one draw the line between “outsourcing” some desired task to the government and an “unfunded mandate”?

    • jim_m

      it’s in your question. It is an unfunded mandate when the task is not one that you would want to do or when it adds additional effort or cost without generating measurable benefit for you or your immediate community.

      • herddog505

        Who makes that call, though? Consider Idahoser‘s response elsewhere in the thread:

        I don’t want you living next door to me and leaving your yard full of leaves, and I do want there to be at last a way to force you to clean it up if you won’t do it voluntarily. It does affect me, your right to be a slob does not trump my property value.

        Both people have a point. WTH believes that the .gov is forcing him to pay a lot of money to solve a problem that he could solve in a cheaper fashion. Idahoser just wants the problem solved because, if it isn’t, it becomes HIS problem.

        Consider this sort of situation on a higher level. The .gov mandates that I buy health insurance to solve the problem of who pays if I get sick. I don’t want to do that as I’m (hypothetically!) young, in good health, and can come up with a cheaper solution. Other people, however, don’t want to be stuck with the bill if I get sick or hurt in an accident, so the “mandate” seems like a helluva idea to them.

        Where do our liberties end and our obligations to be a part of decent society begin?

        • jim_m

          Unless you live in an area with some pernicious homeowners association (yes, a redundancy), whether you rake your leaves is your own damn business. If idahoser wants to be a leaf nazi and force people to maintain their lawns according to his standards he can make sure he lives in such and area where he can be on the association counsel and mind everyone else’s business.

          Why not take Idahoser;’s complaint one step further and ban people having trees? Then the leaf issue is solved.

          Living in a community means living with people who have different standards than you do and getting along with them, not forcing them through government coercion to live like you do. The problem with the left is that they believe that government coercion is the solution to every problem.

  • Hugh_G

    I got a suggestion for the “alleged” journalist/writer Huston. Why don’t you just burn every damn thing you’ve ever written. You could have your little “life is unfair” protest and the world be a better place without your writings.

    • warnertoddhuston

      More fascist left-wingers seeking to “burn” everything with which they do not agree. You are scum. Accept the truth.

      • UOG

        Warner, congratulations. Your posting on leaf removal has provoked a wide ranging discussion on the extent of individual liberties. Thank you. This is fundamental stuff and it needs to be discussed. UOG

      • Hugh_G

        Ah, the truth hurts doesn’t it? By the way clearly I am a liberal and we all know that fascists sought to purge society of liberals. Not only are you a disingenuous alleged “writer”, you don’t even know history.

        By the way I suggested you burn your writing, not that I burn them, as one of your every whiny protests about how life is so unfair. Apparently you have little or no reading comprehension. No surprise, that.

        “Scum”? That’s the kind of language the Nazis used. Hmmm???????

    • jim_m

      Since Warner writes everything on a website can we start by burning your computer?

      Thanks for volunteering.

      • Hugh_G

        I made a little bet that it would be you about the computer!!

        Your retort was good, not great but good.

        • jim_m

          Thanks. I hope you made some money.

          • Hugh_G

            Well it just went from one of my pockets into the other.

  • Pingback: Mocking the GOP | Daily Pundit

  • Idahoser

    not every tax is evil. Anarchy is as bad as progressivism. Government should do little, but what it should do it really does need to do.
    I don’t want you living next door to me and leaving your yard full of leaves, and I do want there to be at last a way to force you to clean it up if you won’t do it voluntarily. It does affect me, your right to be a slob does not trump my property value.

    • jim_m

      Your right to maximize the value of your property does not override my right to use my property as I wish within the limits of the zoning laws. Next it will be that you don’t like the statue I put in the garden, or the tree blocks your view. Heck, why not just complain that the neighbor’s tree drops its leaves in your lawn and demand that he cut the tree down? Perhaps people should only plant conifers?

      How about if I parked a rusted out jalopy in my driveway? That would probably piss you off too. Now you will want a law regulating where people park their cars or what condition they must maintain them in. What if the neighbor doesn’t seal coat his driveway every year? The cracked pavement is an eyesore! Or god forbid you live in an area where people have gravel driveways! I’ll bet you bitch about the neighbor’s basketball hoop too.

      Neighbors suck. Get over it or move to some desolate wasteland where people won’t bother you.

    • jim_m

      Let me put it in a less harsh way:

      If you pass a law forcing people to maintain their property in a certain manner, you remove the necessity for people to be neighbors. It is far better for society if people can communicate to each other in a reasonable fashion and come to an agreement on keeping up the community. Your neighbor might be a slob, but he also might have a physical impediment that prevents him from raking his leaves. Too bad we sic the municipality on him rather than helping him because it is so much easier to coerce someone we don’t know than it is to get to know him and actually fix the problem

      • herddog505

        I agree that the world would be a far better place if we acted like neighbors and friends and settled our differences without recourse to the .gov (or the HOA, for that matter). To borrow from Mr. Madison, If men were angels, no government would be necessary. However, the unfortunate fact is that people most assuredly are NOT angels. Even if they were, one man’s reasonable request is another man’s rights being trampled.

        I suggest that, in principle, we enact laws and statutes as a sort of collective “neighborly” agreement. We covenant with each other to obey certain standards and requirements: do not murder each other, do not steal from each other, rake our lawns, don’t park a rusted-out ’73 Camaro in the front yard, etc. Obviously, some laws are easier to obey than others; some are a damned nuisance, and some are (or can be seen to be) an outrage on our individual rights. As you note elsewhere, a shrewd man will live as best he may to avoid laws and requirements that are onerous to him (as people in California seem to be doing in droves).

        What we hope is that we have the collective wisdom to, if no get it right the first time, then at least fix it when it’s seen to be wrong. WTH complains that the requirement to bag his leaves is onerous to him. I think that I would find it so, too. I note that, apparently, he’s not trying to escape the requirement altogether: he’s not trying to be a “bad neighbor” with an untidy yard. He’s simply complaining about an intrusive government mandating to him HOW he must keep his yard tidy.

        How we deal with laws and requirements that we find to be onerous – and how we get laws and requirements passed to correct situations that we find to be intolerable – is the essence of how we function as citizens.

  • Gmacr1

    Free mulch if you have a garden. I run my mulching mower and put the bagged cuttings in my mulch pile. I rake leaf piles, then onto a tarp that gets pulled into the back yard to the mulch pile. Banner year for sweetgum and pin leaf oak leaves. Plus the neighbors have kindly contributed free bagged leaves more than trippling my pile for next year.

Optimization WordPress Plugins & Solutions by W3 EDGE