My friend Earl made a career of the Air Force and one of the places he was stationed was in England about 10 years ago. No matter where he has been sent by his superiors, Earl has always taken it upon himself to learn about the area and explore when not working so he took great advantage of his time there.

One thing he learned about England when he returned to visit me was some of the taxes they had were a bit unusual. One in particular I remember him mentioning was a windows tax. Apparently the crown feels that people who have more windows in their house should pay for the luxury.

We laughed about it at the time, but when one stops to think about it, this country and its money hungry leaders are reaching the point where they are close to surpassing any other country with its taxes and fees. If we weren't so regulated, these fees would be unnecessary as the bureaucracy they prop up would be irrelevant. Stop and really think about what you do in one day and how much money from your pocket travels to Uncle Sam's or Pennsylvania.

The list of taxes that have come into existence in the past 100 years has circulated the Internet periodically, but in case you haven't seen it some of the taxes include: property taxes, sales taxes, sin taxes (cigarettes and booze), gasoline taxes that inflate our prices almost sixty cents a gallon, fishing and hunting license taxes, marriage license taxes, real estate tax, earned income tax, local services tax, dog license tax, FICA, SUI, per capita taxes, occupational taxes, hazardous material taxes, telephone emergency services tax, telephone tariffs, vehicle registration taxes, traffic violation fees, telephone usage charges, in some places personal property taxes, vehicle sales taxes, luxury taxes and use taxes to name just a few of the taxes we suffer with under the government who uses this money supposedly to take care of our country but in reality they spend it like drunken sailors.

We have agencies on top of agencies doing double and triple work. One question I posed to then state Representative David Argall during the debate of granting fly ash dumping permits from DEP was how the Legislature justified the Department of Environmental Protection when the state's constitution Article 3, Section 32 states that the General Assembly shall not pass any local or special laws in several areas but one in particular is part seven which states that assembly cannot regulate labor, trade, manufacturing or mining. I asked Mr. Argall how DEP is justified controlling what local municipalities and businesses do and can regulate mining when this section apparently forbids them from interfering in local business. To me, it would seem that DEP is in violation of the Constitution.

Furthermore, DEP lords over the commonwealth and fines people for breaking regulations left and right and in most cases justifiably so, but then when they make a mistake we have to live with it. One example that comes to mind was the debacle over the creek in Tamaqua that was permanently causing orange stains due to their ineptness in overseeing a site. That's just one example.

Our country is full of agencies that do nothing more than collect fees and spend money and provide marginal benefits. When I worked as a supervisor of the Summer Youth Program in Jim Thorpe several years ago, the Department of Labor and Industry stopped by for an audit. The next summer when I returned I was given a list of supposed violations that we incurred during the program the previous year. I say "supposed" because in actuality the bureaucrat that wasted the government's time and money got almost everything wrong. One case in point was a fine they tried to levy on us for a fourteen year old using a power mower at a day care. The fine claimed this child was regularly directed to mow the lawn. The problem is the day care had no property. There was no lawn. The child was mowing his lawn at home and the investigator never bothered to dig any deeper than asking if the boy cut grass. That was typical of the unjustified fines on the list. It's almost like legal racketeering.

Gambling is another hypocrisy in which the government participates. It's okay for the state to reap the hard earned dollars from taxpayers who choose to gamble and they think by slapping an ad for compulsive gamblers here and there alleviates their conscience of the lives they destroy with this legalized activity, but you or I better not dare to run a sports pool or a poker game without a license (cha-ching). That's jail time for us. This is ridiculous and insulting.

Sometimes I think the only difference between organized crime and the government is there is an outside chance you actually might pay off an obligation to a wise guy. The government will never stop sucking the money out of us.

Every day the governments of the states and the Feds seem to dream up new tax schemes. The winner this week goes to some morons in New York who proposed taxing children's games at day camp. Yes, if you want to play tag, dodge ball, kickball, softball or a myriad of any other children's games, these bureaucrats tried to convince our neighbors to the north that they were hazardous and a $200 fee per child should be paid by day camps and organizations that conduct such activities. Fortunately someone with a brain stopped it.

Now if that doesn't convince you this country and our states are being run by lunatics and we need to start asserting ourselves, I don't think anything I can say will.

Til next time …