Herald Journal Columns
August 13, 2007 Herald Journal

Pawlenty was right the first time

By LYNDA JENSEN

I know it’s likely that the Legislature will meet in special session and increase the gas tax.

This is fine, and I understand why, in light of the I-35W bridge collapse (even though it didn’t happen based on a lack of money or maintenance, according to the state).

When it comes to taxes in general, I don’t mind a certain amount to a certain degree, because in a civilized society, we need to pay for many things when it comes to infrastructure and resources.

But, let’s not forget why the gas tax was a dumb idea to start with – sheer timing.

Anyone who would suggest a gas tax while gas is $3 a gallon obviously is out of touch with the real world.

A gas tax is the most direct tax you could impose on the working poor. You might as well reach right into their wallets, subtract the amount in their checkbook registers for daycare and groceries, and write a check out the government for taxes. It’s no less.

It’s true that a gas tax would be collected by those who actually use the roads – but who doesn’t use our roads?

Who are these people who supposedly don’t use roads? Even bicyclists use roads, and they aren’t powered by gas.

Trucks, which deliver the commerce of nearly every kind of product imaginable, also use roads; and so you are a secondary user of roads by simply buying a pack of gum or other product in the grocery store.

Therefore, I don’t blame Gov. Tim Pawlenty for one minute for vetoing this idea in the first place.

He has his feet planted in the ground, and apparently knows enough single parents and working mothers who simply can’t afford this tax on top of $3 per gallon gas.

In retrospect, the gas tax should have been increased slowly over time, in smaller amounts. Not now.

Opt your college student out of those credit offers

If you have a college student who is returning to school in a month, then take this advice to protect them from identity theft that I heard from WCCO:

1. Call 888-5OPT OUT, and remove your physical address from those “If you have good credit,” credit card offers, which are sure to come for new students. If you’re old(er), like me, then you probably get them, too.

This isn’t the number to opt out of telephone solicitations; that’s a different deal.

Open-ended credit card offers are a recipe for disaster.

What happens is that thieves get their hands on these preprinted credit card offers and then fill out the information, along with a change of address for a “new” address (theirs).

Then a year later, you, the victim, get a collection agency calling you, looking for money on a credit card that you never knew you had.

Remember, college students get loads of these offers because credit card companies are hoping to secure a lifelong “interest”ing relationship with them.

So, head ‘em off at the pass and remove the temptation now.

2. If you are concerned about your credit, then place a fraud alert on your credit. This is good for 90 days.

This means that you will be called if anyone is trying to pull your credit report for any reason (such as opening a new credit card account or making a large purchase on credit).

Here are the contact names and numbers for the three credit agencies (you have to call all three of them).

Use These Numbers to Order Reports:

• Equifax 1-800-685-1111 This one lets you get a free report if you have been denied credit in the last 60 days. Option 2. Make sure that you order only the credit report. Mail within 48 hours.

• TransUnion - 800-916-8800 - mail within 6 to 8 business days.

• Experian - 888-397-3742 - receive within 8 to 10 business days.

Caution: if your phone request gets lost, you’ll have to write anyway. If your letter is later than 30 days after you were denied credit, employment, or insurance, you might have to pay for the report. It would be a good idea to mention in your letter the date that you requested the report by phone.

Equifax also requests that you follow up your phone order with a written request containing proof of address, your driver’s license, name, date of birth and social security number.

Use for Disputes on Credit Reports:

Experian

NCAC

PO Box 9556

Allen TX 75013

888-397-3742

Equifax Information Services

P O BOX 740256

Atlanta, GA 30374

800-997-2493

TransUnion

Customer Disclosure Center

Trans Union Consumer Relations

PO Box 2000

Chester, PA 19022-2000

800-888-4213

Something to remember

The more I study science, the more impressed I am with the thought that this world and universe have a definite design – and a design suggests a designer.

Knight’s Treasury of 2,000 Illustrations, Walter B. Knight.

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