Bad News All Around

Grind for July 7th
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
– Bernard Baruch

Not Again

The Headline

Illinois residents are driving out of state to avoid gas tax increase

The Grind

Residents of Illinois started driving out of state this week to purchase gas after a sharp tax hike went into effect on Monday.

The hike brings the state’s motor fuel tax to 28 cents per gallon (up from 19 cents) and raises the diesel fuel tax to 44.5 cents per gallon (up from 21.5 cents).

The new tax is tied to the Consumer Price Index, meaning it will automatically increase each year with inflation without lawmakers’ approval.

The Details

The new tax is part of the $45 billion “Rebuild Illinois” capital plan signed by Democratic Governor JB Pritzker last week. The plan also raises taxes on vehicle registration, parking garages, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and video gaming machines.

“Every dollar that is coming from the motor fuel tax is going into a lockbox that only goes to roads and bridges and our surface transportation needs across the state, so people know that the money will be spent well,” said Pritzker.

Among those hardest hit by the new tax are waste management companies, which maintain fleets of diesel trucks. CEO Alan Handley, whose recycling company operates 225 garbage trucks in Chicago, expects the tax to add at least $1 million per year in costs.

“The cost has to be passed along [to consumers],” says Handley. “We can’t absorb all that.”

Consumers can also expect to see increases in delivery fees for everything from dry cleaning to pizza.

The Takeaway

The tax will be most cumbersome for middle class families, which spend the highest percentage of income on gas.

“It’s a crime that they’re doing it because we have to get to work,” argues Sue Reynolds, 54. “We have two cars and I’m going to have to switch cars and fill up over here” at a gas station in Indiana “one day with one car and another day with the other.”

Something Smells Fishy

The Headline

Russian submarine could have been on its way to cut Internet cables

The Grind

The Russian submarine that caught fire on Monday could have been on a sinister mission to cut undersea cables that provide Internet to the world.

Multiple sources – including Russian media – claim the submarine was a nuclear-powered AS-12 Losharik. If so, the fire could have produced toxic radiation.

The Details

The fire occurred on Monday, but news of the incident (and the 14 deaths involved) was not released until Tuesday night after President Vladimir Putin met with his Defense Minister.

Moscow’s official report failed to specify whether the sub was nuclear powered and did not state how many sailors were on board.

For years, officials in the US and Europe have warned that Russia has been surveying undersea Internet cables – perhaps with the intent to destroy them. The sub that burned up on Monday had been in operation since 2003.

The ordeal is somewhat reminiscent of the Soviet Union’s reaction to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

“Why did a day go by and only then did they make the statement about the deceased?” asks Russian radio host Echo Moskvy. “Why don’t we know their names?”

Did you know… Play-Doh was first manufactured as a wallpaper cleaner.