Criminalizing the Otherwise Lawful

Last Saturday, I was hunting for parts for the Facebook car that my wife purchased for my daughter. It took multiple stops to track down a replacement seat for this vehicle. In the course of my journeys, I encountered something that would make my friends at the Board of Equalization tremble. I wasn’t that surprised but still it seemed worth a mention on my blog.

While I was waiting to get my item pulled from inventory, some Hispanic fellows came into the store to get some parts for their week-end project. The sales guy asked what parts that they needed. The salesman then quoted them some prices. They seemed reluctant to pay that much and then the sales guy said, “No sales tax for cash purchases.”

I know I was told my part would be one hundred dollars plus tax. Then these other guys come into the store and are offered a different deal. I began to ponder this. It seems that this moral dilemma has many aspects to it. Oh, I’m not jealous that they got a different deal than me but it does make you wonder.

Let’s look at this situation:

• First, the State of California already got their pound of flesh from these used cars back when they were new. In effect, to tax these very used parts again is double taxation.  On the face of it, this seems wrong.

• Second, if some guy like me buys these parts, aren’t we keeping them out of the landfill just a little longer? I thought recycling was supposed to be good public policy so why should I be punished with taxing these parts again? To most folks these items are just junk. The axiom, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” comes to mind.

• Third, aren’t we expected to give breaks to folks that might be of dubious citizenship? President Obama and Governor Brown sure think so. Their stated policy is don’t ask, don’t check.

• But fourth, shouldn’t we follow the law however unreasonable as long as it doesn’t violate God’s law? Romans 12 anyone?

• Fifth, tyranny is wrong so must we obey stupid laws that turn otherwise law abiding folks into criminals?

To summarize; is the simple statement about cash purchases not paying sales tax really that simple? It seems to be a microcosm of modern life.

As for me, I was just glad that I didn’t need to pay freight on my parts.