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The Empire of Fees

The Empire of Fees


When I wake up in the morning at my home in Austin, Texas, I turn on the lights, and thereby provide a few cents to the city government’s electric company. I flush the toilet, owing a few more to Austin’s sewer service. When I pour myself a glass of water, the city water department gets a piece. After I get dressed and step outside, I watch the city take my trash, my recycling, and my compost—each pickup costs a few dollars. Sometimes, I discover a $25 ticket for parking my car in the wrong spot. Then I swallow my anger and drive down the MoPac highway, where I pay a toll to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. I park in a garage downtown owned by the Austin Transportation Department, pay them a few bucks, and walk to my office. If I need to take a trip out of town, I pay $1.25 for a Capital Metro District bus to the city-owned Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, where, along with the price of my plane ticket, I pay a $5.60 fee for the benefit of being patted down by a TSA agent, a Passenger Facility Charge, and a small part in any rents the city charges restaurants and retailers. Only when I’m in the air does the drain to the government stop.

In one typical morning, I handed over money to several government bodies. But I didn’t pay any taxes—only fees, charges, and fines. These are the future of government in the United States.

Read the full article on City Journal.