Do you ever get a feeling when reaching into your wallet that someone beat you to it? Unfortunately for us it’s legal and I have to believe that it started when the government took money out of our paycheck before we ever saw it. It’s a sneaky thing to do because us humans tend to be creatures of habit so after a while we don’t miss our own money but you can believe government won’t miss it either (pun intended).

How happy would you be if you received all of your hard-earned money in cash and then had to walk through a line of government representatives while handing each some of your money? I would think the next American revolution would begin in a relatively short period of time after that.

I have neither the time or space to list how government and even private businesses raid our wallets but a perfect example for me to use is our telephone bills. The sad part here is the more phones you have, the more gets taken out of your wallet. For example on my cellphone bill there are surcharges called the Federal Universal Service Charge, the Regulatory Charge, Administrative Charge, Maine Universal Service Fund Charge, Maine Service Provider Tax Charge, Maine School and Library Fund and the Maine State 911 Charge. Those fees are doubled because my wife and I each have a cell phone.

We no longer have the old standard telephone known as a landline. We now have a telephone that works over the Internet with a telephone system called OOMA. I sense because it operates over the Internet we pay less in fees but the ones we do pay are the Regulatory Compliance Fee, 911 Service Fee and finally the Federal Universal Service Charge.

However, on that telephone we do not pay state and local taxes as well as other fees and surcharges. We used to have the Magicjack phone system for $19 a year but that worked solely through the computer and could be annoying if one of us were on the computer at the time of an incoming or outgoing telephone call. Obviously with Magicjack we paid no fees or taxes.

But now there’s a telephone company that wants your money even if you do not have telephone service with them at all. That company is FairPoint. Remember all the outcry when Verizon wanted to sell their landline phone business in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont and the only buyer was FairPoint? Many thought at that time FairPoint did not have adequate finances to carry on those services and now it appears that is true. Taxpayers took about a $10-billion hit on the federal assistance to General Motors Corporation and I’ll be damned if something like that will happen again. It might not sound like much at first but if FairPoint gets its way, it would place a $67 million tax on all cellphone users in Maine, which is about $4 per phone.

I don’t know about you but I see no reason why we as individuals have to sustain a private business that can’t sustain itself. I know fully well that the telephone industry has gone haywire in the past several years and much of that benefits us as a consumer. I don’t like to see people laid off, but there comes a point when any company has to be responsible for itself instead of relying on taxpayers footing the bill. According to what I’ve read, FairPoint has about 30,000 customers in Maine and about 457,000 customers overall. They don’t pay for my phone service, which in total is a heck of a lot more that FairPoint’s basic cost of $14.69 a month. It seems much more reasonable that at least $13 or so a month be added to FairPoint customer’s bill.

Lane Hiltunen, of Windham, hopes the Maine Legislature passes legislation to prevent further taxes on all our phones.


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