Chicago Alderman George Cardenas wants to place a new tax of up to 25 cents on the cost of every bottle to help close a $217 million budget gap. “People enjoy jogging or driving with a bottle of water. There’s a cost associated with this behavior. You have to pay for it” said Cardenas. You may be surprised to learn that there’s a social cost associated with drinking bottled water — afterall, it was your choice to buy and consume it. Cardenas argues that city’s $40 million shortfall in water and sewer funds is because more taxpayers, I mean residents, are choosing to buy bottled water and not using city’s water for a fee. Of course the government’s own operations aren’t the problem — I’m sure they run a tight ship. Perhaps most frustrating is that Mayor Daley has been an avid supporter of privatization — leasing the Chicago Skyway, some parking lots and pursuing a lease of Midway airport — all of which have brought billions into city coffers. Unfortunately he’s been fast and loose with the proceeds which have largely been diverted into new programs rather than shoring up infrastructure and shoring up city finances. Its inexcusable to have a “deficit” after raising more than $2 billion in privatization/leases in recent years. Cardenas is also pushing the tax to help the environment by dissuading people from buying the plastic bottles that end up in landfills. Check the links – enough said. If you’re a frequent reader of Out of Control you know this is a pet issue of mine — some of my colleagues and myself have written about this before — check the links out if you want some more of the back story.
Geoffrey Segal is the director of privatization and government reform at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. He is also editor of Reason's Privatization Watch.