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Paying Twice for Something You Don't Even Buy

By Captain Opinion

MARCH 20, 2000:  Imagine this: You stopped shopping at a local produce market because you started growing produce in your backyard garden. But when you stopped shopping at the market, its owners demanded that you pay them a $20 annual fee to cover the cost of removing your name from their mailing list.

Would you pay the $20?

Now imagine this: Even though you stopped shopping at the produce market, you still support it financially through property taxes because its owners got government permission to levy a tax on every property owner in the community. Plus, despite the fact that you support the market with your taxes, its owners still want to charge you $20 a year for not shopping there.

Would you pay this $20?

The idea of charging people for not patronizing an establishment didn't come from the deranged mind of a capitalist gone crazy with greed. It didn't come from the office of "Let's Squeeze Every Last Stinking Penny Out of Our Pathetic Captive Customers" at some multi-national bank. Nor did it come from a nostalgic ex-Soviet official reminiscing about the Good Old Days over a crate of vodka.

The idea that you have to pay for something you don't want and are already forced to pay for comes from those incredible minds at Albuquerque Public Schools. Two weeks ago, thanks to something only a lifelong educator could dream up, APS said it wanted to start charging a $20 yearly fee to parents who home-school their kids. In other words, APS wanted to charge parents for not sending their kids to public schools and for declining to use APS's services.

APS officials said the fee was needed to cover the cost of filling out paperwork on home-schooled kids, which they claim totals $35,000 a year for the 1,500 Albuquerque families teaching their kids at home. Even if you think it's legitimate for APS to keep files on kids who don't go to its schools, the fee isn't.

Why? Because those parents who home-school their kids, those parents who refuse to use APS services, who say "We don't want to shop at APS," already give hundreds of dollars a year to APS. Actually, these parents don't give money to APS, but the school district takes it from them in the form of taxes levied on property owners. Home-schoolers who don't own property still pay APS because the cost of property taxes are included in their rents.

Why should home-schoolers have to pay a $20 fee for refusing to use a service that they're already forced to pay for? Because some bureaucrat got it into his or her mind that citizens must be made to pay, pay and pay again for a school system they don't want to use.

A lady who home-schools her kids summed it up best: "This is tyranny."

You're damn straight it is. The educational establishment will do everything they can to keep American children and their parents captive to a public school system steeped in mediocrity and failure. They'll do everything they can to pick that last penny out of your pocket.

APS junked the proposal last week after a lot of people wondered if the bureaucrats had been sniffing solvents.

This idea of making people pay for something they don't use or want isn't all bad, however. In New Mexico, which ranks 50th among the states in terms of per capita income, it could be a boon to the economy. If every store, company, lawyer, doctor, auto mechanic, restaurant and bar began charging people for not shopping in their places and for not buying their products or services, we'd zoom to the top of the per capita income list in a couple of weeks. There'd be a mad rush to start new businesses. Presidential candidates would cite the Land of Enchantment as a shining example of American entrepreneurship. Wall Street would be thrilled, and we'd all be stinking rich.

This would be huge for the environment. If every car and oil company could charge people for not buying their vehicles or gasoline, they'd never have to sell anything. There'd be no traffic jams, no exhaust fumes and the air would be cleaner.

Politicians could send bills to people who don't vote for them. We'd all be better off for that, because politicians would become rich without having to take illegal kickbacks from relatives and friends to whom they've steered public contracts.

If you're a business owner and the profits haven't been as solid as you had hoped, don't despair. Use the APS proposal. Start billing people who don't patronize your business. Bill people you've never seen and don't know. Bill people who haven't even been born yet. But please give the honor of starting this great new economy to APS bureaucrats. Get their names, and if they haven't patronized your business, charge them for it.

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