Saturday, February 02, 2013

If I had a hammer....

  I remember one particular recess back at Millville Grade School, when my old buddy Stinky Wilmont asked to borrow my new Louisville Slugger bat so that he could practice his swing. Unbeknownst to me, he was practicing out in the driveway in front of the schoolhouse, hitting rocks over the road and into Orbin White’s hay field. Now, I’m not sure what tool should be used to hit rocks over the road, but when Stinky handed my bat back to me full of dents, dings and missing sections of wood, I was pretty sure you shouldn’t use a Louisville Slugger, especially my new one.

  I’ve been a carpenter for over 40 years, and I’ve seen a lot of people misuse a lot of tools in that amount of time. Screwdrivers as chisels, levels as hammers, hammers as screwdrivers, and screwdrivers as hammers. Usually it’s none of my business, and I try not to let it bother me, unless it is my tools that they are misusing. Then I’m apt to say something.

  I feel the same way about money. I see a lot of people using money on things I don’t think they should be using it on, but as long as it’s not my money, I generally keep my opinions to myself. Truth be known, I probably use money for things that other people think I shouldn’t be using it for, but as long as we all agree to mind our own business, and don’t use somebody else’s money, it doesn’t seem to cause too much of a problem.

  I saw the other day that there is a bill moving through the Indiana Senate that proposes a new tax on vehicles, supposedly to raise revenue to build and repair the roads. Like most people, I understand that roads cost money, and like most people (although I suspect the percentage is getting smaller), I expect to pay for the roads if I intend to use them. We currently pay 18 cents on every gallon of gas we buy for the Indiana Gas Tax, along with 18 cents for Federal Gas Tax, about 25 cents in sales tax, and a few other taxes that get tacked on as the gas travels from the oil wells to our gas tanks.

  That’s a lot of money over the state and over time, but like I said, we all know that roads cost money. A lot of money. The problem comes when they take our money for the roads and then use it for something else. Out of the 18 cents per gallon that the state takes for the Indiana Gas Tax, less than 13 cents is spent on the roads. The rest is scattered about on other programs and projects, from the Criminal Justice Institute, to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, to the State Police.

  I don’t know if Indiana collects enough revenue through road use taxes to adequately maintain the roads. I do know that before we adopt another vehicle tax, or wheel tax, or excise tax, they need to make sure all of the money we are already paying is used on the roads. If they do that, and find out that it still isn’t enough, then we can talk.

  And if my Grandson Dawson asks to take my toothbrush to the sandbox again, we’re going to talk about that, too.


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