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 Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :
Telephone Tax and Powdered Milk
by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
Although I am not old enough to be enrolled in Medicare, it occurs to me after watching the news and reading the papers that we have just managed to create another governmental bureaucratic snowball. One that will most likely roll up into something totally unmanageable and useless for all those it is intended to serve.

I consider myself halfway sane and reasonably intelligent, but when I try and look at the multitude of options available on the new drug/prescription plan that just went into effect, my head starts to hurt and my eyes roll around, making me dizzy.

Needless to say, it appears to me to be very confusing as to what kind or type of plan anyone should sign up for. In New York, for instance, seniors have over 46 plans to choose from varying in monthly cost from a low of $4.10 to $85.02. It seems most of the plans offered have different premiums, different deductibles, co-payments and what drugs are covered. Not an easy decision to be sure. Why is this so difficult? How come the government didnít test this idea before they put it into effect?

Sometimes I wonder if governments ever just get too large to remain effective? You look at the problems France is experiencing these days and realize that their problems arenít going to go away anytime soon. These are deeply serious issues that someone, somewhere must address in order to get the situation under control and stop the rioting that has spread throughout the entire country.

It looks like to me that before any new program or law goes into effect, it should be tested out by someone to see how it is going to be administered and if itís difficult or easy to comply with. As I recall, sometime earlier this year, someone pointed out that we are still paying a 3% tax on our telephones as a result of the Spanish American war. I tried running this down this morning and found this interesting piece of news:

A hundred and seven years ago, in 1898, the federal government began levying a temporary 3 percent excise tax on telephones, ostensibly to fund the Spanish-American War.

Flash forward to 2005 -- and every American with a telephone is still paying this "temporary" tax. The war was over after just a few months, but the tax has been in effect for over a century. On top of that, the tax does not go for any specific purpose. Rather, the funds are simply added to the general fund.

Well, isnít that special?

So, it appears that once a tax is in place, it stays in place. The family that prays together, stay togetherÖ sort of thing. The same goes for any type of administration or governmental agency, they are somehow eternal and never dying. Take another unknown federal agency that I bet you never heard of, much less would approve of your hard earned tax dollars going toward itís support. This little beauty is called the ďStrategic Milk ReserveĒ. Like the strategic oil reserve, but only this time with milk. Whatís the story on this one? Read on:

Washington, D.C.)†-- Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today criticized the federal government's $1 billion stash of milk powder buried in caves under Kansas City.† The powder, a product of 70 year-old farm subsidies, costs $20 million annually to maintain and is a layover from the bad old days of command and control agriculture policy.† Equivalent to 1.3 billion gallons of skim milk, the government has bought enough milk powder to supply the country for 16 months.† The government buys the milk to keep it off the market and thereby maintains artificially high dairy prices.

When is the last time you drank powdered milk?


I have time for just one more, then I have to go lay down, since this stuff makes me sick. You are probably aware that we donít have a draft in this country. Yet, we spend over $22,000,000 a year to keep the Selective Service agency up and going. They have over 195 full time employees and have a current database of over 13,000,000 young men between the ages of 18 and 26 years old. Somehow I thought there were more of those in that age group in the country, but I could be wrong. They spend $7,360,000 annually on advertising and public awareness about signing up for selective service. I canít recall the last time I saw any ad, anywhere telling young men they were required by law to sign up for this, have you? When is the last time you heard some 18 year old tell you they had signed up and registered? I havenít heard of any. Where are they advertising? Is it evening America? Maybe itís in France and that what the riots are all about, who knows?

Well, enough of this, I suppose we just have to grin and bear it. No other place to live that I know of, unless you pick out some tropical island, but those are probably taken by movie stars and rappers. They donít pay taxes, get drafted or drink powdered milk.
© Peary Perry
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com
Letters From North America
- November 18 , 2005 column
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