We pay a lot of taxes -when we're born, die, earn income, spend it, own property, sell it, attend entertainment venues, operate vehicles and pass wealth along after death, among others. But our lawmakers want more - Maryland has now added a tax on rain. To reduce stormwater runoff into the Chesapeake Bay, the Environmental Protection Agency assessed the state $14.8 billion, which the state will collect starting in July by taxing "impervious surfaces" -- any land area in its 10 largest counties that cannot directly absorb rainwater, such as roofs, driveways, patios and sidewalks.
The Washington Post reported in April that the federal government is due to spend $890,000 this year to safeguard ... nothing. The amount is the total fees for maintaining more than 13,000 short-term bank accounts the government owns but which have no money in them and never again will. Closing the accounts is easier said than done, according to the watchdog Citizens Against Government Waste, because the accounts each housed separate government grants, and Congress has required that, before the accounts are closed, the grants must be formally audited -- something bureaucrats are rarely motivated to do, at least within the 180 days set by law (though there is no penalty for missing the deadline).
It's good to be the county administrator of Alameda County, Calif. (on San Francisco Bay, south of Oakland). The San Francisco Chronicle revealed that somehow, Susan Muranishi negotiated a contract that pays her $301,000 a year, plus "equity pay" of $24,000 a year so that she makes at least 10 percent more than the next highest paid official, plus "longevity" pay of $54,000 a year, plus a car allowance -- and that she will be paid that total amount per year as her pension for life (in addition to a private pension of $46,000 a year that the county purchased for her).
The Way Washington Works:
Congress established a National Helium Reserve in 1925 in the era of "zeppelin" balloons, but most consider it no longer useful (most, that is, ranging from President Reagan to the Democratic congressman who in 1996 called it one program that, if we cannot undo it, "we cannot undo anything"). The House of Representatives recently voted 394-1 to continue funding it because of "fears" of a shortage that might affect MRI machines and, of course, party balloons. (Thank the Lord, I don't want anything to interfere with my being able to imitate a chipmunk...)
In a rare (these days) bipartisan action, congressional military "experts" of both parties are about to force the Army to continue building Abrams tanks -- even though the Army has said it doesn't need them and doesn't want them! The tank manufactures, of course, have convinced Congress that it needs the contracts, no matter what the Army says....
Live Long and Prosper...