Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Know I'm a Democrat But WTF?

Catherine and I will be visiting her mother in Joplin, MO and my sister in Omaha, NE this next week. Fortunately, Kansas City, MO is exactly halfway between the two cities: we fly into KC (conveniently nonstop from Newark), rent a car and it's just a three-hour drive to Omaha and three hours back from Joplin (we'll skip over the six hour drive in the middle because it's no fun and I don't want to think about it).

This evening, I went onto Continental's website (that's where we have our frequent flier miles) to rent our car. The range of estimated prices was $400 to $600 for 7 days (or, more precisely, for 6 days and 4 hours... which we all know means 7 days in car rental time)—even though the stated weekly rate for every agency was less than $300. Now, I like to think that I'm a pretty smart guy but maybe my brain isn't firing on all cylinders tonight: I just couldn't understand the discrepancy between the stated weekly rate and the estimated price. So I hopped over to priceline and offered $15 a day. And, to my surprise, my offer was accepted by Hertz! Then I received this breakdown of the costs:

Your Offer Price: $15.00 (per day)
Total Rental Days: 7 days (6 days and 4 hours)
Subtotal: $105.00
Taxes and Fees: $115.10
Total Charges: $220.10
Lowest Published Price: $297.91
Total Savings: $77.81 (You saved 26%)

Sure, I got a much better price than on but excuse me: I'm paying more in Taxes and Fees than I am for the car?!

Now, I'm a big believer in paying taxes—I don't like paying them but they are, to me, a necessary evil in order to live in a civilized society. Without taxes we would have no interstate highway system and no air traffic control (both of which I'll be using this week), no Head Start, no rural electrification, no G.I. Bill... the list of important, tax-supported government programs is incredibly long. But I think I'm fairly safe in saying that there are definitely more FEES in these "Taxes and Fees" than TAXES and that those fees are going to the airport. In fact, I know they are, since even the State Department lists them as "taxes" on this website.

I don't have a lot of respect for that sort of sarcasm from "my government."

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