Would you vote for the following ballot initiative?:

Question 1: Do you want to create a Universal Car Replacement Program to provide new cars free of charge to everyone, funded by a new 3.8 percent tax on lefthanded people?

What I like about this ballot initiative is that it is universal. Everybody gets a free new car. Who wouldn’t like that? I also like the fact that only lefthanded people pay the taxes. Since I am righthanded, this seems very fair.

I think this proposal would pass. Since only 10 percent of the population is lefthanded, their outrage at being singled out to pay higher taxes will be drowned out by the vast majority of righthanded Mainers who will pay nothing.

Of course, the ballot question omits details. I have no idea whether a 3.8 percent tax on lefties would be enough to buy every Mainer a new car, since the question says nothing regarding what kind of car the program would provide. It could be a Chevy or a Porsche. But the ballot initiative creates a mysterious board of directors who would decide who gets a Chevy, who gets a Porsche and who gets nothing at all.

Sound like nonsense? It is actually very similar to the Question 1 that will appear on the Maine ballot in November. Home health care may be a worthier cause than new cars. But so would prescription drugs, college tuition and affordable housing. Should we float ballot initiatives that “fix” each of these problems by adding 3.8 percent to someone’s taxes? The Mainers who would pay these taxed are not all tax-dodging millionaires as the proponents of Question 1 imply. They are businesses and professionals that Maine desperately needs. And if Question 1 passes, there will certainly be fewer of them.

Patrick Sheehan

Mount Vernon

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