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Taxation: No child left inside? (update)
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, February 19, 2008

As I've pointed out previously, taxes should fund legitimate government functions, nothing more. We can all argue what those legitimate functions are (such as those functions found in a "night watchman' form of government vs. the "nanny state" model), but one of my pet peeves is when government attempts to use taxation to control behavior.

Tom Scott sends along a link to just such a tax being proposed in New Mexico:
The New Mexico legislature has introduced a new tax measure, HB583, that would force consumers to pay a 1 percent excise tax on purchases of video games, gaming consoles, and TVs. The revenue generated from the game and TV tax would be used to fund a new state educational effort aimed at getting kids out of the house more. True to the aim of the measure, they have even given the bill the creative title, "The Leave No Child Inside Act."
The purpose?
Specifically, the new fund would empower officials at the New Mexico states parks division and public education department to do the following:

• Develop curriculum-based programs for teachers to use on public lands and at other outdoor learning sites for outdoor education initiatives;

• Develop hands-on teaching materials for children for use in outdoor education programs;

• Provide transportation for children to experience outdoor education programs;

• Provide substantial and frequent outdoor experiences for children; and

• Increase outdoor nature-oriented physical activity programs for school-age children.

Apparently the measure has the strong support of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups thanks to its "get outside more" focus.
Feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, er, outside?

Just another in a long line of tax funded boondoggles in which all these programs are set up and no one uses them. But they certainly pay for them. Pure expansion of government and the old "nanny" state tendencies coming to the fore (and when no one uses them, they'll be discontinued, however, the tax will remain in place).

Now, you can laugh at stuff like this or take it as seriously as I do. Because if and/or when government takes over health care, this optional stuff in which children are 'encouraged' to participate may not be so optional - that is if you want health care without paying a penalty.

UPDATE: Josh b clues us to the fact that apparently, as I'm sure most hoped,the bill failed:
A proposal to create a No Child Left Inside Fund with a one percent tax on TVs, video games and video game equipment has failed in the state Legislature.

The measure had been backed by a broad coalition of groups, led by the Sierra Club.

The fund would have helped pay for outdoor education throughout the state.

The tax would have been the first of its kind in the nation.

Supporters of the tax said outdoor programs have been shown to mprove students’ abilities in the classroom, boost their self-confidence and teach them stewardship and discipline.

Critics complained they shouldn’t have to foot the bill for parents who don’t know how to raise their children.
Love that last line - name a single tax supported entitlement program where that line of reasoning isn't valid, i.e. others shouldn't have to foot the bill for the failure of x to do y.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Another part of the waste involved is that many school districts will not allow field trips anymore. The legal obligation if something unforseen happens is to much of a risk to take. So they are creating a program that the schools are not even allowed to use.
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
This tax has got to violate the commerce clause...
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
You fooled me. I thought you were going to say that this is a new tax to fund abortions.
Written By: MarineCorpsVet
And the folks who run Best Buys and Wal*Marts 10 minutes outside the New Mexico border cheer wildly!
Written By: SaveFarris
URL: http://
There’s already a great place for boys to learn all about outdoor stuff: The Boy Scouts. And I’m pretty sure the Girl Scouts do more than sell cookies. So why is this new program so vital?
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
"The Leave No Child Inside Act."

I bet they all smiled for days after that catchy title. They knew they were in that position for their acute intellect and razor sharp wit. but i have to ask, why no book tax? Or tv tax?

These programs are faulty from the outset, why would you choose to fund a program which exists to eliminate its own funding? Whose gonna repeal once it cant fund itself? Noone
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
seems reports it died

Critics complained they shouldn’t have to foot the bill for parents who don’t know how to raise their children.
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
The Wii at least gets kids moving. What we need is a way to play the video game outdoors...they had an article in the Economist about overlaying the virtual onto the real world (sort of like the Terminator’s vision.) If you could do that in a game version of Medal of Honor, I bet kids would be running around outdoors a lot more. And of course, you’d get people talking on headsets using VOIP when they could just shout at each other.

(Seen this before in Taiwan. Two tour guides with megaphones standing 5 feet from each other still used the megaphones to discuss minor stuff. Surreal.)
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
... or they could just decide not to prosecute parents for child neglect if they let their kids run around by themselves, without helmets, padding, or bubble wrap, catching grasshoppers in the vacant lot at the end of the block. ’Cause I would TOTALLY let my kids out of the house if I knew my continuing non-prosecution didn’t depend on whether or not some nosy neighbor felt her onions and got annoyed enough to call the cops.
Written By: Wacky Hermit

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