The not-a-tax tax

Republicans routinely exploit the public’s disdain for paying taxes by labeling as such things that are not such. A prime example is the “carbon tax.” Half a century ago, businesses and individuals routinely discarded their liquid waste by dumping it into waterways at no direct cost to themselves. When the resulting pollution became bad enough Congress and state legislatures passed laws prohibiting the practice and establishing disposal systems available for a fee. It is not possible, in most cases, to collect gaseous waste products and direct them to disposal facilities, but it is possible to collect a fee that reflects the cost to society of having those wastes dumped into the atmosphere. Calling this fee a tax is a tactic being used by fossil fuel industry to convince gullible people to let them continue to destroy our air in the name of profit. It is time to change the rhetoric and stop calling a legitimate user’s fee a tax. Maybe then our lawmakers can be convinced to do the right thing and internalize the costs of fossil fuel use.

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