Archive for March, 2010

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Burned by Congress

March 23, 2010

I have nothing against a national health care bill, in fact, I think we definitely need one.   This particular health care bill happens to be 2,562 pages long and admittedly, I haven’t read the whole thing.  But I did see the part where there would be a 10% “vanity tax” imposed on consumers who use indoor tanning services beginning in July.   This is expected to raise  $2.7 billion by 2019 while discouraging a practice that can cause skin cancer.   

Okay, I get it.  One million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year.   One thousand people in the US die each year from it.  But compare that to the 1.25 million people who have heart attacks, and the 425,000 people who die from them.   Or to the 5.5 million Americans who have cirrhosis of the liver, 40% of whom have it because of alcohol abuse.    Or to the 219,000 new cases of lung cancer, and the 159,000 deaths each year, many of which were brought on by smoking.  So where’s the new tax on artery-hardening fast food or liver-demolishing liquor or lung-quashing cigarettes? 

There are more than 50,000 tanning salons in the United States, the majority of which are not chains, but independently owned.   They’re small business owners who may on the one hand benefit from the new health care reform legislation, but are shouldering an unfair burden of the cost through the nature of their business.    Most will have no choice but to pass along that increase to their customers, which could hurt their businesses.     Why isn’t there a tax on memberships to outdoor swimming pools or golf courses or other places that may expose you to the sun?    

Interestingly enough, the health care bill originally included a 5% “vanity tax” on cosmetic surgeries and procedures.  Some were calling it the “bo-tax” and it was expected to raise 5 billion dollars in the next 10 years.  Apparently, the lobby for cosmetic surgeons is more organized and powerful than the lobby for tanning salons, because the “bo-tax” was taken out of the health care plan before the vote.     

I still have hundreds of pages to read, so I may be back to discuss other issues regarding the new health care plan.  On this particular issue though, forget the UV rays;  tanning salon owners and their customers are getting burned by Congress!

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Time for sacrifice

March 17, 2010

We’re living in tough times.  Many of us have had our salaries cut back; some of you have lost your jobs altogether.  This recession…economic downturn…financial disaster…whatever you want to call it, has many of us adjusting our budgets and making changes in our lifestyles.   We have to manage our personal finances this way–we have no choice–and I would bet that most of us know what it means to sacrifice during lean times.  When the amount of money coming in goes down, we put off making  unnecessary purchases or maybe even go without what we once considered necessities to make ends meet. 

Well ends aren’t meeting in Toledo and many other cities.  In some places, ends aren’t even catching a glimpse of each other.  We can complain.  We can demand local leaders find solutions.  The problem is, there is no magic fix; something’s gotta give.  So what is it?  Trash pickup?  Ticket tax? Police and Fire layoffs?  Keeping the pools closed for the summer?  You can’t say “no” to everything.  There are some tough choices that must be made.  I live outside the city of Toledo and I’ve always paid for my trash to be picked up; maybe that’s why that solution doesn’t seem so ridiculous to me.  I’ve always paid income tax to the city of Toledo…and I don’t mind doing it.  I work here and I like knowing I can call police to help me if someone threatens me or decides to panhandle in our parking lot or camp outside on our lawn.   To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t really mind paying a ticket tax to see the Mud Hens or go to a concert, and believe me, I attend MANY of those events with my family and friends, so that would definitely hit me in the wallet.  I understand why the Mud Hens, Symphony, and Ballet don’t want the tax, I’m just saying I wouldn’t mind paying it.  At least it’s a solution that doesn’t put the burden solely on Toledoans.  Maybe inmates could clean up and mow the lawns at the parks?  Maybe people who owe money to the city and can’t pay could work off some of their debt?   Heck, maybe we could hold a telethon and ask people to make contributions to the worthy cause of keeping our city afloat? I don’t have the answers, but I for one am not complaining about the solutions.   It’s a tough time.   A time for sacrifice.