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Sayeth the contrarian ...

| Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Democrat gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf is one of those pols who never met a tax he didn't like. He's even so tax happy that he has proposed a progressive state income tax, which is patently illegal under the Pennsylvania Constitution. That said, the contrarian asks this question: Why don't pols pimping for this tax and that tax ever include in their calculations the effects of sucking so much private wealth out of the economy? No doubt because such conscription causes more harm than good. ...

The Oasis Cafe in Stillwater, Minn., now calculates and adds to each customer check how much a Gopher State-mandated hike in the minimum wage costs. It's printed as the “MIN WAGE FEE.” Oasis estimates the hike will gouge it about $10,000 this year. And it's been roundly criticized in online reviews for having the audacity to charge customers to cover costs imposed by fiat by the state. The contrarian says Pennsylvania gasoline stations should follow suit by denoting “The Corbett Tax” — the tax hike won by Gov. Tom Corbett that, in the end, will add 28 extra cents to each gallon pumped. ....

Oxford Development is touting in promotional materials a new energy- and space-efficient 20-story skyscraper in downtown Pittsburgh. It's a scaled-back version of a 33-story tower it first proposed for Smithfield Street, bounded by Fifth and Forbes avenues. But given that rental rates are expected to be much higher than going rates, the contrarian is forced to ask the question that developers proposing such grand buildings hate to have asked of them: How much will taxpayers be asked to pony up? ...

How out of whack are collegiate sports? So out of whack, says the contrarian, that for the first time this year, students at Arizona State University will be charged a $150 annual “athletic fee” to help fund the madness. And so out of whack that the NCAA has voted to give its five richest conferences — including the ACC — individual votes that are weighted to pull more sway than smaller leagues and allow the Big Boys to set their own rules. Big College Sports soon will be larger, more perverse and more out of whack with these institutions' educational mission than ever before. ...

“It's not fair, it's not right,” President Barack Obama whined last week about the perfectly legal practice of U.S. corporations incorporating abroad to lessen The Great American Tax Bite. “The lost revenue to Treasury means it has to be made up somewhere.” Sayeth the contrarian, “Well, duh!” As every smarter economic mind from Andrew Mellon to even John F. Kennedy knew (and still knows), lowering effective tax rates would produce more money for government coffers while keeping U.S. corporations domiciled in the United States. Of course, that has to be accompanied by an administration that junks the kind of national industrial policy that doesn't even qualify for good scrap. ...

The president has signed a $16.3 billion bill designed to reform the badly broken Department of Veterans Affairs. There's everything from more doctors and nurses to more VA facilities. One provision even allows vets to obtain private care. But the contrarian reminds that if you don't pull poison ivy out by the root and then lavish it with rich fertilizer, you get a larger poison ivy plant with deeper roots. Why should anyone expect the VA to be any different?

Colin McNickle is the Trib's director of editorial pages (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

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