Time For a 90s Tea Party

May 8, 1999

Time For A'90s Tea Party

By Ralph Hood

June 1999

Ralph Hood is a Certified Speaking Professional who has addressed aviation groups throughout North America. A pilot since 1969, he's insured and sold airplanes at retail and distributor levels and taught aviation management for Southern Illinois University. He currently serves as National CFI Marketing Mentor for AOPA's Project Pilot Instructor Program.

Recently, I paid 49.55% tax on a car rental at Boston Logan Airport! I swear that's the truth. Taxes and fees totaled 49.55% of the rental price of the car. 49.55%!

Ten dollars of that was to help pay for a convention center. In other words, they charge visitors $10 to help pay for a convention center to attract visitors. There's something wrong with that way of thinking. (By the way, the car rental lady told me they've been charging that $10 for more than a year, and still haven't started building the convention center.)

Forty-nine-point-five-five percent — that is rapacious and confiscatory. It is immoral, indecent, and just plain wrong. Think of it — 49.55%! And this in Boston, the city that threw the tea overboard rather than pay taxes on it.

How do they get the gall to charge such a tax? This is a perfect example of gutless politicians slapping an exorbitant tax on people who don't—-can't—vote in said politicians' territory. They couldn't get away with charging their constituents such a tax, so they sock it to travelers.

"But Ralph," people tell me, "every city does that."

Yes, they do. And that's exactly why we've got to do something about it.

Need I remind you that 1) We are in the travel business, and 2) Yes, there is a limit to what people will pay for any product? It really is possible to price an entire industry out of business. If you don't believe that, just ask anyone who remembers trying to sell new airplanes in the late '70s and early '80s.

But, what can we do? We certainly can't control local guvmints from coast to coast.

No, but I've got an idea. The Federal Guvmint is fond of protecting the public from greedy businesspeople, why can't they protect us from greedy local guvmints? Why don't we lobby for limiting the total taxes that can be charged for any product in the country? You reckon we could get a federal law passed stating that total fees and taxes —-from all sources—-on the sale of any product can never exceed a specified percentage of the product price?

Remember, we did get together and push through changes in product liability laws on aircraft. And that was aviation working alone. On this we should get the help of travel agents, rental cars, hotels, and others in the travel industry.

I'm serious about this. Something, folks, has got to be done, or where in the world will it end? If it is now 49.55% in Boston, where will it go from here? Think of it: 49.55%!