Taxes, taxes & teacher’ claims

Taxes, taxes & teacher’ claims

An email from a recent correspondent:

“I read your article in the Aug. 20 Patriot-News (in Harrisburg) about taxing (motorists) by the mile. I understand the concerns about taxing all who use the roads regardless of gas usage.

“My concern, as I believe many should be concerned, is the privacy issue,” the writer said, adding that GPS should not be used to track mileage for taxation purposes.

“Simply use the vehicle odometer. It is accurate enough, simple, not easy to tamper with on modern cars, and already illegal to tamper with. GPS added to all cars not already equipped will be expensive, and probably easier for a good hacker to tamper with than a modern odometer.

“Also, to make it even more fair, tax by mileage and by weight. (It would be) an additional motivation for light cars, and trucks are the vehicles that do almost all of the damage, so they should be paying almost all the fees.”

The writer’s points are worth considering by policy makers.

The object lessons keep rolling in from Philadelphia for Pittsburgh area officials who might still think that taxes have no consequences. And the latest study of the City of Brotherly Love’s sugary drink tax is an eyebrow raiser.

As The Philadelphia Inquirer reports it, citing a study by Catalina, a digital marketing company, a “review of sales data from nearly 1,000 stores in the region found soda at franchised grocery and drug stores dropped 55 percent inside the city after the tax went into effect this year, while sales spiked by 38 percent at stores just outside the border.”

A city official questions the study, arguing it should have included data from all sugary drink retailers.

Billypenn.com quotes “corner store” owners as saying their small operations can’t weather the stiff distribution tax that is, of course, passed onto customers. They say some stores already have gone out of business and they expect more to do so.

It remains elementary, class: The more you tax something, the less you get of it. Onerous taxation retards economic activity.

A new analysis of the well-worn claim that Pennsylvania public school teachers are underpaid and overworked concludes that’s not the case at all.

Antony Davies, an associate professor of economics at Duquesne University, helped crunch the numbers. From an op-ed he co-wrote this month in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

“(S)tatewide, the median salary for all workers with bachelor’s degrees is about $47,000 vs. $56,463 for similarly educated public school teachers.

“Public school teachers with graduate degrees have a median salary of $68,174, which is about $4,000 higher than that of Pennsylvania graduate degree-holders in general. And this last group includes doctors, lawyers and college professors.”

As to the oft-pleaded teacher claim of being “overworked”? Again, from the op-ed:

“A typical salaried worker puts in almost 2,500 work-hours over the course of a year. How does that compare with teachers? Suppose the typical teacher works 10 hours per school day and works 200 days per year, rather than the 180 days schools are legally required to be open.

“At that rate, the typical teacher works 2,000 hours per year. That’s fewer hours than a typical salaried worker works, and the typical salaried worker doesn’t have the job security of tenure.”

Ouch. And ouch.

Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).