Although fully aware that I’m (let’s say) unique, I still think bottle deposit charges ought to outrage people. The idea of the charges was to give consumers some incentive to recycle bottles and cans, but Susan Haigh reports for the Associated Press on how that rationale continues to transform into something else:
In Connecticut, distributors were allowed to keep the unclaimed bottle deposits to help offset the costs of running the program, but state officials decided in 2009 to use that money — about $34 million each year — to help balance the government’s budget.
Step 1: Use some public purpose as justification for the creation of a new funding stream, claiming (don’t worry) the government’s intentions are wholly dispassionate. Step 2: Spot a big pot of money that government can contrive a justification for taking, and take it.
Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa are among the states where bills have been proposed to replace the bottle deposits with a tax. Supporters say the tax revenue could support recycling efforts that did not exist when the bottle redemption systems were introduced.
Thus does the government essentially open up a line of business in recycling. What started as an incentive charge that government imposed, but from which government did not profit, is becoming an excuse for government to process money for a particular activity.
Liliana Rutler and Rosie Woods report on another line of work the government of Massachusetts is edging toward entering:
Sheriffs urged lawmakers Monday to use the legalization of marijuana as an opportunity to invest in substance abuse treatment. They are urging state lawmakers to increase the tax on pot from 10% to 15% to pay for those treatment programs.
Step 1: Legalize an illegal industry. Step 2: Effectively turn it into a government-monopoly. Step 3: Find new sideline businesses such as treatment for those who abuse the government-monopoly substance.