It Sounds Logical

Joseph Thompson

[Reprinted from an undated pamphlet, Simple Talks on Taxation, published by the author]

... Well, here's one tax you can't belly-ache about.
Which one is that?
The Gas Tax.
It does sound reasonable.
It sure does!
But is it?
There you go! I knew you'd have some kick about it.
Well, it's no worse than our other tax asinities.
I say it's a damn sight better! The car driver uses die roads. He ought to pay for them!
I just said it sounded reasonable. But if the road wasn't built, the motorist wouldn't be there.
Is tha-at so? How did you figure that out?
It does sound silly, but wait a minute. The road goes from some place to some place else, doesn't it?
I suppose you want me to say a lot of roads go from nowhere to nowhere, Huh?
No. You can skip that one.
Well, what do you want me to say?
I don't want you to say anything. I want you to think. Let's; say the road goes from Ames, on the highway, to Berry, off the highway. Is it only the motorist who is benefited by it?
He couldn't make the trip without the road.
Not only he couldn't, but he wouldn't. Right?
So someone in Berry wouldn't get the business he might of got if the motorist had come there.
Cer'nly. How could he?
That's what I say. How could he? One bit of business, out of hundreds he might of had if the road was built. And that would raise the land value in Berry.
For Crissakes! Pulling it 'round to your damn land value, again! I suppose an eclipse of the moon would make an increase in land value?
Just to be smart, I could say that it would bring a temporary value to certain good viewing locations, but let's get back to Ames and Berry. The road would immediately raise land values in Berry. So the road contributes a damn sight more to Berry's location value than to the motorist's convenience. He may only be there once, or he could go somewhere else.
Then you'd seem to think the land-owners in Berry ought to pay for the road.
They, and the land-owners in Ames.
In A-ames!
Sure. Ames would be more of a town if a road came in to it from some other place. Both would profit.
Yeah, but so would the motorist.
He might For an hour or two. But it's business all day with the towns of Ames and Berry. The more motorists, the more business. The more business, the higher goes the land value. But so far as building the road is concerned, there's several others that ought to be declared in on the cost.
You ought to be satisfied. You've hung it on the landlords.
But not enough of them.
Not enough! Meaning what?
Well, there's some landlords, maybe a thousand miles away, who oughter help getting rid of the gas tax.
Holy Gee! I don't see that!
Well, there's some landlords, far off, collecting royalties on oil, simply because they have title to the land.
Why the hell shouldn't they if they own the land?
And I'll ask you; Why the hell should they? They didn't put the oil there.
Can't you allow a little something for luck?
We're allowing a dam sight too much for luck, right now, with you and me paying them their royalties.
You and me! The oil companies pay the royalties.
But you're smart enough to know, I hope, that the oil companies pass them right along to us.
Well if the gov'ment took the royalties, the oil people would pass them on to us, too. So where'd be the difference?
Where'd be the difference? Where'd be the difference! Gosh. Look. The gover'ment collects the land rental It's high on account of the oil.
Sure, and the companies go right on passing it on to us! And there we are. Right where we were!
Except for one thing. One big, big thing.
Except for what?
Except that the gov'ment, getting its income where it should, would stop taxing the gas. Of course we'd have to keep the politicians from collecting at both ends.
I don't get it.
Don't get it! Why, you pay royalty and - and, mind you - and gas taxes now. With gov'ment collecting the royalty, taxes should be out You'd only be paying one instead of both.
Say, fellers, you'll excuse me for buttin' in, but I just want to say that I think our friend here, forgets that the government takes most of that royalty money in income tax.
No. I haven't overlooked it, nor the fact that the counties take some land tax now. But what the gov'ment leaves on the table, makes what it gathers in look like peanuts. Nobody gets as much money as fast as the oil-land men, and for doing nothing. I say the Gov'ment ought to collect the royalty and raus mit der gas tax!