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We Don't Hate All Taxes; Just Ask the Fish Restockers

Vice President George H.W. Bush won the presidential election in 1988 in no small measure because of his famous promise: "Read My Lips: No New Taxes!!"

Nobody likes to pay taxes, right?

Well . . . there are taxes that are quite popular. Voters and legislators pass them all the time.

They're called excise taxes, and they're levied on a few, select products, with the proceeds put to specific uses that make everybody happy -- except, of course, for those who must PAY the tax.

Gasoline taxes have been around since Oregon passed one in 1919, and politicians think nothing of slapping a few more cents' tax on a gallon every time roads need to be widened. And since the majority of Americans are not rich, voters routinely endorse excise taxes on luxury cars and boats, furs, and fancy jewelry. Smokers and drinkers pay dearly for their habits, too, not just in poorer health but also in steep excise taxes on a pack of cigarettes and a six-pack of beer.

Recently, the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies announced what it called a "Big Win." Congress had just voted to tax purchases of outboard motors and other boat engines, with the money earmarked for greater boating access and the restoration of sportfish in certain waters.

So the excise tax has become a policy tool, funding programs for the greater good -- like fixing bad roads, foul air, and understocked streams -- by taxing the people who we think caused the problem in the first place.

So read my lips: No . . . new . . . taxes -- except for a good cause that we agree with, with the tax preferably paid by somebody else!