Saying Goodbye to Honesty

Saying Goodbye to Honesty, originally uploaded by MarkEJohnson.

I will be the first to admit there is a lot of hyperbole in that headline, but I have been annoyed about this for weeks and I finally had to deal with it this morning.

The state of Georgia has been dancing around the edges of financial catastrophe for a while now, believing the only way out of it is to cut. Cut from education, cut from services, cut everything they can find.

Which makes sense, it does. But they also scream at the state capital about how they will not, cannot, raise taxes. That is never going to happen.

But then …. they did, in a devious, sleazy way.

Instead of saying they would raise revenue by raising taxes, they raised fees all across the state. Fees that funnel into the state’s general fund … where all the tax dollars go, too.

So why the crooked photo of a license plate? Well, this morning I took that plate off my car. I have held an amateur radio license for more than a decade now. If there were to be a disaster of some sort that wiped out communications systems, I would be able to help people communicate-that is one of our charges.

To help better identify the citizens who have volunteered (and spent a not insubstantial amount of money) to help, the state allows you to get your call sign, as issued by the Federal Communications Commission, as your plate number. In Georgia, these plates had no annual fee (normal plates have a $20 fee).

Had the state decided to drop the waived fee, I wouldn’t have a problem. But they decided to add on a $35 vanity plate fee, as well, so the annual registration moved from nothing to $55 (plus the ad valorem tax, which is based on the value of the vehicle).

And, they did the same thing for almost all the plates, including the volunteer firefighters … a “not a tax” fee on people who have gone through specialized training to help other people.

So, this morning, when I renewed my registration and paid my ad valorem tax, I asked for a standard plate, a $20 a year plate. The nice woman at the tag office was fully understanding and even apologized for the hassle, saying there were a lot of people doing the same thing. Including herself.

So, nice work, legislators. I am now anonymous on the road, not paying the new tax levied on those who help others and you had to stamp a new plate for me. Let me know how this works out for you.