Friday, November 2, 2007

When Liberal Ideas Collide: The Flexcar Tax

I heard this story on NPR yesterday (I listen only for the entertainment value...), and it highlights a very interesting collision of liberal causes. This story from the Seattle Times also has some information. Anyway, here is the gist of it:

Oregonians just love Mother Earth...and taxes. But an interesting question to ask is, which does the big Oregon government like more, protecting the planet or collecting tax money? The answer comes in this story about a company called Flexcar. Flexcar is actually a pretty ingenious combination of a taxicab and a rental car. People can reserve one of the hundreds of flexcars parked around the city (for as little as an hour) and be driving off within minutes. Access to such a convenient and reliable service makes it possible for many Oregonians to forgo owning a car. This not only "saves the planet," it also solves some REAL problems, such as roadway congestion.

The "problem" occurred when lawmakers noticed (thanks to rental car companies) that Flexcar was exempt from the Oregon rental car tax. The exemption helped to encourage planet-saving and discourage traffic by giving citizens the reward of not having to pay the rental tax (9.7%). Well, all that is over. Flexcar users will now have to cough up the extra cash even while "doing the right thing."

The moral of the story is that the Oregon state government just missed a golden opportunity to show the planet just how much they care. Actually, they did show us what they do care about, only it isn't protecting the environment--it's GETTING MORE MONEY AND POWER. I'm sure they would be happy to save the planet, too, if they could raise taxes to do it. But when the two issues collide, taxes win every time.

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