Thursday, September 15, 2011

Raising Taxes One Page At A Time.

On the one hand the President is fond of saying that he won’t raise taxes on the middle class, on the other hand the Republicans would have you believe that they are adamant about not raising income taxes under the current economic situation. With both the President’s and Congress’s approval ratings abysmally low it would be fair to say that the public has caught on to the game and they’re not buying the story from either side.

While looking through a list of taxes that have been raised a few days ago I came across one at the bottom of the list that made my blood boil. It was a $26 Billion tax on what is know as “Black Liquor.”

So what is Black Liquor and how does putting a $26 Billion tax on it affect the economy, the country and you? No it’s not a tax on Thunderbird or Ripple. The simplistic definition given is that it is a tax on particular type of bio-fuel. Well, yes and no. If the administration is so gung ho on so-called “Green Jobs” why are they leveling a huge tax on a bio-fuel?

Having worked for years for various companies that manufactured and supplied boiler cleaning equipment to the paper industry, black liquor is something I know a little bit about. I can say this in that I have patents for innovations in the design of this equipment.

Anyone who has driven by a large paper mill knows it’s a large, complex if somewhat malodorous operation. Turning wood pulp and rag stock into paper requires chemicals, lots of chemicals, and produces a considerably sized waste stream containing some very nasty and highly toxic by-products. Not the kind of stuff you can bury in a landfill or hold in a waste pond. If they were to leak into the water table the results would be disastrous.

With disposal not an option, the paper companies process these chemicals into a substance called red liquor and then further process it into the black liquor “bio-fuel” that is now subject to being taxed. This is then burned in specially designed units called Recovery boilers, so named because the burning allows the paper makers to “recover” the energy the chemicals contain and use it to generate electricity that is then used in the paper making process or sold into the electrical grid.

I won’t go into the details of the complexities and dangers involved in burning black liquor or red liquor, which is even more complicated, here. But as usual as with any ill-conceived tax policy, the problem is in the unintended consequences.

As a result of this foolishness every kilowatt of electricity sold into the grid by the paper makers just got more expensive. Every piece of paper you use just got more expensive. And every consumer product you buy, from cereal to light bulbs to laundry detergent, if it is packaged in paper or cardboard, it just go more expensive. Your children’s school supplies just got more expensive. Every administrative function in government and in business that requires a piece of paper just – got – more – expensive.

So when you go to the store and buy those things you need and you get angry because it cost more this week than it did last week or last month, now you know why. As you look at that receipt and your blood pressure rises, remember it cost more too and it’s reflected in the total at the bottom. So you might want to take a piece of that now more expensive paper and write a note to the President and your Congressman and let them know how this little known, unadvertised and ill-conceived tax just made your life more difficult and expensive. Let them know that its just this kind foolishness is how we get saddled with ever increasing inflation, and that that is the most pernicious, destructive tax of all.

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