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Special Feature

How officials refuse to pay the taxes that feed them

When former U.S. Vice President Al-Gore was stopped on August 3, 2004 by Oregon State Trooper Eric Tholberg, for going 75 miles (120kph) per hour in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone, Gore did not put up any resistance neither did he called the Police Commissioner’s office. He sat quietly as the officer processed his ticket.

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On Thursday at about 10 AM or so up on Crown Hill right before our offices, a City Parking attendant here approached a black Ford Jeep with registration number 06, belonging to the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate-Senator Armah Jallah.

The driver in the black Ford Jeep, which had parked for more than an hour rolled down his window glasses waiving his hand behind the vehicle which was the first of three cars.
The innocent parking attendant not recognizing who the owner and occupants of the vehicles were, proceeded over to the next vehicle where she expected to collect the City Parking fee, a tax dully impose upon motorists parking along the streets. Many ordinary citizens have had their vehicles towed just for refusing to pay such fees.

Anyway, when the parking attendant respectfully moved back to approach the occupant of the next vehicle for the payment of the three vehicles, she almost got her feet ran over had she not move away quickly from the second vehicle as the driver sped off.

When Trooper Tholberg approached former Vice President Al-Gore, this is what he said: “The reason I’m stopping you, is I checked your speed at 77 miles per hour,” Tholberg said to the driver behind the steering. “Do you have any legal justification for going that fast today?”

“Uh, no, I just didn’t realize it’d slipped up there,” Gore said to the trooper who did not recognize him as the former vice president. On the police video, Trooper Tholberg can be seen walking back to his cruiser, then suddenly voices his surprise into the police radio after he takes a closer look at the driver’s license he was just been handed.

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“No way!”  Just to be sure, he heads back to the rental car for another look. “This name’s just now kicking in to me. Are you the Al Gore I think you are?” asks Tholberg. “Yes, I am, Yeah.” said Gore. He still sits quietly as he awaits the officer to complete his ticketing process.

“(Chuckle) alright. I’ll be back,” responds Tholberg. Back in his cruiser – Tholberg writes the ticket for 75 miles an hour instead of 77 because the price of the ticket goes up over 75 miles an hour.

“We have a lot of bad crashes on this highway,” Tholberg warned. “You got thousand pound elk that will step out in front of you and at 77 miles per hour, it can get pretty ugly. So, we want to see you get there safe, sir.”

“I appreciate it officer,” said Gore. “Thank you so much.”  What did happened here was a former Vice President who understands he had to be in the confines of the law even when the officer finally recognizes who he is, he still allowed him to complete his duty.

Here the story is different. Those who feed on the taxes, refuse to pay those very taxes that feed them. They are considered the untouchables and should have everything free on a silver platter-they are the “honorables”).

They break traffic laws with impunity-they drive on opposite lanes with excessive speeds, don’t want to pay parking tickets even on their private functions and no officer dare intercepts them. They import their goods and other personal belongings under duty free privileges, why the ordinary citizen bears the brunt of the taxes.

In recent times the Government hiked the taxes on nearly everything. Importing ones’ personal belongings is almost being discouraged, as poor citizens are now being compared to paying taxes 1000% above normal. Citizens are now being asked to pay 4% sales tax on their personal vehicles that they import for private use in addition to the duties on these vehicles which they don’t care how much you bought it though. It must suit their tax targets All these are done to ensure firstly that state officials many of whom do not undergo such tax regime get their benefits, allowances and perdiems on time.

While the ordinary citizen struggles to send their wards to school, their kids and relatives enjoy the best scholarships abroad. When it’s time for vehicle inspections, our so called “honorable” would move their license plates among their fleets of vehicles, while the citizens majority of whom earn below US1.00 per day would be forced to ensure that their vehicles are properly registered.

The National Fire Service Agency will soon begin the inspection of vehicles to determine compliance and ensure that every vehicle plying the streets have fire extinguishers. A fee of US40.00 will be applied. But state officials will be left alone to ply our streets without such gadget.

It appears that in our part of the world taxation or laws are only applicable to non-state officials and ordinary citizens. Trust me, the City Parking attendant would have rolled off her sleeves today had those vehicles belong to a non-state official. And if Gore were a Liberian official, that officer would have been disrobed and forgotten about long time. He would have even been charged with assignation attempt.

By Othello B. Garblah

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