Society Benefits From Tolls

RECEIVED Tue., Sept. 14, 2004

Dear Editor,
   I read with concern about toll roads being used as means for others to pay for their "lifestyle" ["Austin@Large," News, Aug. 20]. Do we really want taxation based on lifestyle? Do we institute a tax on those people who are overweight because of their own unhealthy lifestyle? Would the advocates of "lifestyle" taxation advocate their expansion to include those whose lifestyle puts them at high risk for contracting HIV?
   How much must we pay in public health care costs so that the overweight can continue to order large fries with their Big Mac and Diet Coke or so that others can be irresponsible in the practice of their lifestyle? Would toll road "lifestyle" tax advocates support the concept that only people with children in school should pay taxes to support the school system?
   We must realize that "lifestyle" taxation is like a "targeted" tax cut; they are both behavior control. Government controls are enforced by confiscating your money if you have a certain lifestyle or allowing you to keep more of your money, providing you spend it how they want. The solution is of course to limit taxation to the financing of legitimate government functions such as public education and infrastructure and for it to get out of the lifestyle business. Certain lifestyle choices have consequences, such as being overweight, and the argument is thin that others should have to pay for those consequences. However, society as a whole benefits from a transportation infrastructure just as it benefits from a public education system. Even if you have no children in school, you benefit from having an educated work force and informed populace. Even if you do not drive, you benefit from the transportation infrastructure because you use the goods and services moved by the infrastructure in one form or another.
Carl Anderson
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