The Third B Tax:

Nathan Hopper

Nathan Hopper

I’m working on a new venture: I want to take a minimum of $35,000 from 3,000 different people – because I can spend it more wisely than them. The English Major is open for suggestions on how best to do this.

Lacking any properly original ideas, Plan A is to follow the Brooking City Council – implement Yet Another Tax on prepared foods. They have a Brutally successful idea going. See, if you buy a meal plan, you will pay. And buying a meal plan is obligatory for 3,000 students. This is not a volunteer thing.

This Unavoidable tax is justified by saying that only $35,000 of the estimated $225,000 comes from the residence halls. But students will pay the bulk of the tax. $35,000 is a low figure – one that intentionally misrepresents the facts. Without a doubt, students already pay the bulk of the second “B” tax – alcohol.

Let’s be honest here – nobody drinks more booze or eats more pizza and china buffet than college students. It’s the parents and relatives of college students who stay in the hotels – the first “B” taxes.

Initially, the Students’ Association went to bat for the students. This Ferocious, Steel-Toothed organization, best known for its petty squabbles and love for parliamentary procedure, actually had a few Benevolent ideas.

But nothing puts the kibosh on benevolence like a Kickback. SA discussion with the City Commission turned from “No New Tax!” to “Give SA the Tax!” With $35,000 on the table, the SA suddenly fell in Love with the new tax.

Their theory, as it was reported in the Brookings Register, was that the SA would take the student tax dollars and use it to offer more student activities. Obviously, nothing is more sacred than the Johnny Holm Band and organized Frisbee golf – even if it means strong-arming $35,000 from students.

Of the 18,000 people in this town, 8,000 are students. You needn’t be a political guru to understand why it’s easy to shaft students: nobody cares about you.

Step 1. To avoid repeated Shafting, change your voter registration. Why do you need to vote absentee for four years in Parkston, Clark or Reliance? You live here. Vote here.

Step 2. Write Angry Letters to elected officials, the SA, the Brookings Register, the Argus Leader – dare I even say the Collegian, too? Nobody writes letters. One will be noticed. Ten will be a deluge.

I don’t want to suggest that this money isn’t used for Wonderful Things. We do have the Brookings “Someplace Special” slogan. I’d pay at least $10,000 for such a pithy slogan. We do have a wonderful Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. It’s in an impressive brown, metal shed by the interstate – surely the nicest brown metal shed in town. And thanks to this money, groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses Grand Assembly and an antique car show can come to Brookings.

It’s one thing if the tax is by choice. But 3,000 students have no choice. It should be a bit obvious that this is quite plainly Wrong.

E-mail comments to Hopper at [email protected]