51 f) Still more issues and solutions (con’t)
Issue: Lower income folks, the group that can least afford extra spending, spend at a higher rate than average to smoke, play the lotto & consume fast food. You might ask why should this be my issue. In some ways it is not your issue, but in others it might be. Smoking & fast food have a very negative impact on health care costs. Since a large portion of healthcare is subsidized by taxes, as a tax payer you might want to pay attention. Smoking is heavily taxed and the lotto is just another form of taxation. As they stand they are regressive tax forms (not only are lower incomes paying a higher share in gross dollars, but as the % of income the figure is enormous. True, all of these are personal decisions in a free market economy.
Solution: I wish I had a quick and simple idea on this, but I do not. Education is probably the only avenue. One thought on this that would avoid putting an additional burden on taxpayers would be to require the providers of smoking products, Lottos & fast foods to regularly and widely publicize the facts regarding their products. For example, the cost of smoking a pack a day as a percent of income at the poverty level, the amount of lotto revenue that is returned in winning payout & the average cost of eating three meals a day as a percent of income at the poverty level (as well as the facts on calories in relation to recommended daily intake). If you bother to check the math it may surprise you.
Issue: While petrol is our country is extremely low when compared to other countries this may only be a wise decision in the very short term. There is no doubt that oil sources are limited and that their carbon footprint is not advantageous. The primary difference in the costs among countries is in the tax on fuel. Numerous other countries have gotten serious about alternative sources of energy. Examples of this are the funding for R&D in fuel cell technology by Japan and Korea. This technology offers and unlimited source of clean energy.
Solution: Most will not like or agree with this, but we need a more aggressive tax on fossil fuels with the proceeds going exclusively for R&D on fuel cell technology and other alternative sources. This will allow us to compete internationally in the future.