We don't always agree with the Libertarian party's politics or ideology, but we do credit it for becoming an effective government watchdog. It is usually the first to sniff out any sneaky, new taxes Washington has in store.
This month it's blowing the whistle on a federal "outdoors tax" that a coalition of state and national politicians, dubbing themselves "Teaming for Wildlife," is lobbying Congress to impose.
The so-called "conservation" measure, backed by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and numerous environmental special-interest groups, calls for a five percent levy hike on a wide range of sports and nature-related goods, with the money being funneled back to the states to finance wildlife habitat.
Included on the list of taxable items are products that have only remote connections to the outdoors (and none to wildlife habitat), such as cameras, film, guidebooks, boots, skis, binoculars and all-terrain vehicles.
The tax would add up to $100 to the price of individual products, and would cost Americans upward of $350 million, says David Bergland, Libertarian chairman. Unless it's stopped, virtually every outdoor sport and activity will cost more.
As Bergland points out, the problem with the tax -- in addition to the fact that Americans are already massively overtaxed -- is that even if you never set foot outdoors, you could still end up paying more.
Put aside the "green" rhetoric and it's plain that this isn't a fair, targeted conservation tax, it's just another broad-based sales tax that would impact every family's pocketbook, whether they're outdoors people or not.
For example, if you buy a backpack for your kids to carry their books to school, it would be taxed. "Libertarians support `green' policies," concludes Bergland, "but not when the only green involved is the color of the money that politicians want to take from you."
We, and most Americans, can agree with that.