Outrage in Oregon: Liberals are all for taxes…until you tax THEM

As a libertarian I take a very critical view of taxes and taxation in general.  Especially income taxes.  But understanding that things need to be paid for I appreciate the necessity for some taxes.  With that being said I initially had a knee jerk reaction when hearing that the state of Oregon was going to be placing a $15 excise tax on bicycles costing more than $200.  Basically I figured another left coast state just trying to squeeze its citizens in order to pump the general slush fund that fuels government mismanagement and largesse.

After looking into it for a minute though, I realized that this was more of a usage tax than anything else, a form of taxation that I, as a Pennsylvania gun owner who likes to shoot at state game ranges am experienced with.  You see, in Pennsylvania, up until a few years ago gun owners could use the state game land ranges for free.  The cleanup and maintenance funded by hunting and furtaking license.  After completing costly renovations and repairs including lead remediation, safety barrier reconstruction, shooting range redesign etc, there were not enough hunters to make up the cost and with the uptick of recreational shooters a deficit was created.  Someone came up with the idea then to institute a usage tax so that if you had a hunting license of any kind you could still use the ranges for free and if you didn’t then you could purchase a range permit good for a year for $30…or simply buy a hunting license, small game or otherwise.

To me, this makes perfect sense.  If you use the range you pay for its upkeep.  It also promotes hunting which is good for conservation.  I only wish more usage taxes were in place because there are plenty of things that I don’t want to pay for in Pennsylvania but have no say because my income tax and sales tax goes into a general fund.  But I digress, back to Oregon.

It is not like the $15 excise tax is disappearing into the government bureaucracy but rather it is going directly to help bicyclists.

You’d think a bunch of hipster left coast progressives who love taxes would appreciate the simplicity of it all.

BikePortland publisher Jonathan Maus called it “an unprecedented step in the wrong direction.”

“We are taxing the healthiest, most inexpensive, most environmentally friendly, most efficient and most economically sustainable form of transportation ever devised by the human species.”

Yes, Mr. Maus…a form of transportation that needs upkeep like any other.  The bike tax is aimed at raising $1.2 million per year in order to improve and expand paths and trails for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Sounds like Maus is almost saying that bicyclists are better than other people and don’t have to pay “their fair share.”  Smug much?

Currently, Oregon relies on its income tax to foot the bill.  In other words people who have never even sat upon a bicycle and have no interest in riding the trails has to foot the bills.  How exactly is THAT fair?

Romain Bonilla from the Portland pro bike group, The Street Trust had this to say on the transportation package as a whole:

“Let’s be frank: This bike tax is very disappointing.  It’s also well worth the investments in bike safety and accessibility. There are more opportunities ahead for us to stand up for our shared priorities and mitigate the negative impact of the bike tax.”

Basically what Bonilla is saying is that while he loves the fact that the state is pumping MILLIONS of dollars into the bicycling infrastructure of the state, he and his group fight hard to make sure that bicyclists don’t have to pay for it.

State Rep. Earl Blumenauer brought up a resonating point in the argument for the tax stating “One of the arguments we hear repeatedly is that cyclists don’t have any skin in the game [to justify spending millions to for bike related infrastructure]… so there’s been blowback.”

Yet now that the cyclists of Oregon have to pony up a little coin in order to pay for things that they personally use, they are weeping like a snowflake in summer sun.

And to those left coasters who think about comparing what Oregon is doing to the $25 gun tax and 5cent bullet tax that Seattle enacted let me tell you how they are different.  First, those taxes go into the general fund to be wasted by the city council as they wish.  Had that money been earmarked to build gun ranges, start high school gun clubs and safety classes or anything of the like it probably would have gone over better.  Secondly, there are constitutional concerns about punitively taxing a right.  What Seattle is doing is akin to a poll tax and should a case be made to the Supreme Court the tax is very likely to be struck down.  Thirdly, the gun tax was a shame to begin with; the hopes of progressive liberals in Seattle to hamper the exercise of the right to keep and drive out its citizens who believe in the 2nd Amendment.

Yet in Oregon, this tax on bicycles is designed to help cyclists.  Yet for some reason, those who love taxes when other people are paying them are throwing hissy fits when the taxman comes to collect from them.

Like I said earlier, if this Oregon tax was like the Seattle gun tax and the money was going to go to a general slush fund the cyclists would have a point.  But it’s not.  The money will go TO MAKE CYCLING BETTER.  If you don’t want to pay for that don’t buy a bourgeois high end bike.  But don’t think I am going to foot the bill so you can have safe and pretty places to ride your bike free and clear.

Just another example of hypocritical progressive liberals who love taxes, so long as they don’t have to pay them.


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