# 284, August 3, 2003
MORGANTOWN, West Va.: This weekend West Virginia is celebrating two things: a holiday on sales taxes, and the local performance of the Will Rogers Follies.
According to the Sunday paper the tax plan is a giant success. The Dominion-Post reported that “older women, teenage girls and mothers with school age children” mobbed the malls searching for bargains. You would be surprised how far womenfolk will go to save six percent on a cotton blouse or pair of nylon stockings.
But if you want to get a man interested in a holiday from sales taxes, you can’t just make it the first weekend in August. The only place he wants to go in hot weather is to a ball game, drive-in movie or fishing. All he’s wearing is shorts and a T-shirt so naturally he has no interest in shopping for a new winter coat and long underwear. No, you’ve got to make it flexible.
Flexibility is the key for men. See, with the Flexible Sales Tax Holiday plan you give every man two free days a year. And here’s the days you give him: his wife’s birthday, and their anniversary.
Of course the stores will have to stay open late, for the unfortunate souls who sit down to supper before remembering the date. But if they have to be reminded they may spend twice as much, so that’ll make it worthwhile.
But if you really want to interest the men, have a holiday on income tax instead. They don’t care about saving on clothes and other non-essentials, but if you tell a man he can work for a week and keep all he earns, why no telling what all he could accomplish. He would work so long and hard, his boss might even kick in an extra ten percent bonus for the week.
Now the whole idea, from the government point of view, is to get everybody to be more productive, to get more done, to “put the national economy back on it’s feet.” So for this plan to work out a hundred percent they’ve got to keep it a secret exactly which week it is.
Then, at the end of the year, after you have accomplished a third more than you or anyone else thought possible, the government lets everyone know which week was tax-free. They’ll say, “It’s been a good year for the country, and the Republican Party too, and we’re proud to let you keep your entire paycheck for… the envelope please… the third week in May.”
And you’re thinking, “Hey, that was a pretty good week, but I did take off early that Wednesday afternoon. I better not do that again because it cost me.”
We went to the Follies Saturday night, and I’ve never seen it been done better. But it don’t matter if it’s put on by your local high school or community theater or a professional troupe, go see it.
You could tell several of these folks had played their parts before, and done it superbly. In fact “Clem” was in the big show with Larry Gatlin in Kansas City and Dallas last month, and he’ll be with them in Memphis this week and Atlanta next week. Whether you go for the music, the singing or dancing or just to look at pretty girls you’ll have an enjoyable evening. The long-legged one known as Mr. Ziegfeld’s Favorite draws attention, and she deserves it, but my favorite is, and always will be, “Betty Blake.”
Say, if you got your $400 income tax rebate check, you may as well just sign it over to your governor. If your state don’t need it, maybe send it to needy charity. There’s none needier today than California. Next week the Red Cross is setting up a relief station in Sacramento. The Salvation Army is collecting warm blankets for Christmas to give to despondent legislators.
[Note: West Virginia was the first state to put on a sales tax, in 1921, so I figure they’ve got a right to take it off if they want to, even if it’s only for a weekend when the Will Rogers Follies is playing.]
Historic quotes from Will Rogers:
“Why don’t they use a sales tax? That is the only fair and just tax. Have no tax on necessary foods, and moderate priced necessary clothes, but put a tax on every other thing you buy or use. Then the rich fellow who buys more and uses more certainly has no way of getting out of paying his share. Collect it at the source, that is at the manufacturers. Don’t depend on the retailer. That way it would not cost much to collect….
No slick lawyer or income tax expert can get you out of a sales tax….
People don’t want their taxes lowered near as much as the politician tries to make you believe. People want JUST taxes, more than they want lower taxes. They want to know that every man is paying his proportionate share according to his wealth.” WA #99, Nov. 2, 1924