Merry Christmas!

Busy day because . . . I bought a new car! I ended up buying the Mazda CX-5. I was sorely tempted by the Subaru Crosstrek but, at the end of the day the Mazda was a had more of the bells and whistles I wanted for a better price. To get the same bells and whistles from the Subaru would have been more than I wanted to spend and, ultimately, would have given me more car than I actually needed. I’m excited, but also shaken a little by spending so much money (even though I think I got a good price). I grew up poor and, while I’m financially comfortable now, I still have poor person neuroses.

Two other points: First, I was thinking back to my first new car, an Acura Integra, that had no A/C, no radio, none of the safety features we have today (including air bags), and lacked all the gadgets such as cruise control, phone interface, etc. I ran the numbers on an inflation calculator and discovered that my old car cost me more in today’s dollars than the car I just bought, even though the new car is exponentially better in terms of reliability, safety, and comfort. That means that, at least for me, modern cars are not only better (safer, more reliable, more user-friendly) but also cheaper than they once were.

Second, I was reminded today that the government, especially the State of California, is hungry. Ten percent of the money I spent today went to the government in the form of fees and taxes.

Speaking of California’s greed, that reminds me that California is hoping to tax guns even more than it does already:

Assemblyman Marc Levine and a group of fellow Democrats have introduced a bill that would place a new tax on gun sales and use the money for violence prevention programs.

The introduction of Assembly Bill 18 came less than a month after a dozen people were shot to death at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks.

“Too many innocent people are dying from gun violence,” Levine, D-Greenbrae, wrote in an email. “Gun-related homicides are increasing across the nation and in California.”

At the beginning of December, the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive reported there had been 325 mass shootings nationwide so far in 2018, and gun violence overall had claimed more than 13,000 lives. Gun-related homicides increased 18 percent in California from 2014 to 2016, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Many details of the bill, including the amount of the tax, remain to be worked out.

“The cities of Chicago and Seattle levy a $25 tax on the sale of guns,” Levine wrote. “That’s a ballpark number for the tax proposed in AB 18.”

Levine said the number of guns sold each year varies, sometimes significantly, but he estimates that if the tax was $25 it could raise between $12 million and $24 million annually.

Revenue generated by AB 18 would go to support the existing California Violence Intervention and Prevention Program (CalVIP), which last year awarded more than $8 million in grants to communities hit hard by gun violence.

You know what I think? I think that the government should not be able to tax a right. That’s what I think.

I may blog later today, and I think I’ll blog tomorrow, but I wanted to be sure to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.