There are few things more abhorrent than a truly regressive tax. Wikipedia: In terms of individual income and wealth, a regressive tax imposes a greater burden (relative to resources) on the poor than on the rich — there is an inverse relationship between the tax rate and the taxpayer’s ability to pay as measured by assets, consumption, or income. Besides Wikipedia, we know this from the many versions of Robin Hood that we have been exposed to over the years. For example we know that Robin is a babe–or should I say maid–magnet; we know that Maid Merriam is pretty hot, but a bit of a two-timer; the Sheriff is always evil but a good sword fighter and forces his prisoners to wear forest green underwear and eat pink bologna; and we know that Prince John is a conniving weasel who has so mismanaged the kingdom that he needs a never ending supply of peasant largesse. And of course we know that the peasants are folks who just can’t make it on their own: The King uses them, the Sheriff pushes them around, the tax collectors are all sadists, someone is always stealing their daughters or their goats – it is tough being a peasant.
Right here in modern day Phoenix we have a not too dissimilar situation. Our poor peasants (I guess that would be the economically challenged portion of our community) are being set upon by the mayor’s (or should I say Prince Greg’s) usurious two percent sales tax on food. That means, if a family of four were to spend $100,000 on food over the course of a year, their tax would be $2,000: enough to buy a good flat screen TV, a nice set of rims for my Land Rover, or 10 trips to AJ’s for snacks. As you can see, that is a lot of money to a poor peasant family; and as we all know, $100,000 does not fill up as many shopping carts as it used to.
Also, in this modern day parable we need a Robin Hood: I believe that would be Sal DiCiccio, a tireless campaigner for the poor and the downtrodden as his district finds itself so overwhelming filled with them. I can’t figure out the rest of the characters so we will just leave them out.
This would make a great parable except that the city’s citizens most impacted by a food tax are not peasants. In fact, these are a very self-reliant and connected group of folks. The thing about them that most impacts the Wiki definition is that these people have assets: themselves. If someone’s car breaks down, their neighbor or friend or cousin will get them to work. The same with grocery shopping: someone has more of this; they share with someone who has less of that. Maybe they don’t have a lot of money, but they are not “poor.” They are not afraid of a $2 per $100 food tax. That’s not even candy for the kids.
What these folks want are safe clean neighborhoods with city services that provide for them and their families; just like the folks in other districts expect and receive. So, if the food tax lasts a little longer and Greg Stanton remembers those folks he campaigned with, eat with and respects, things will be ok in the kingdom.
Although, it would be fun to see Greg and Sal in tights having a sword fight.