“Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. There's shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan-fried, deep-fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That's about it."

Pvt. Benjamin Buford 'Bubba' Blue (Mykelti Williamson) from the 1994 film “Forrest Gump,” based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom.

In 2019, after paying various and sundry taxes in each of the past five decades, I’m beginning to feel about taxes like Bubba feels about shrimp (minus the affection, of course). There’s just too many to count.

If Bubba can come up with 20 varieties of shrimp, I’d like to know how many private-sector working people and private business owners can come up with at least 20 varieties of taxes.

While taxes will never be the fruit of the sea, you can only imagine how many ways ’til Sunday you really are being taxed.

There’s income tax, earnings tax, Social Security tax, Medicare tax, sales tax, CAT tax, gasoline and other fuel tax, property tax, school tax, library tax, mental health and drug addiction tax, other health tax, fire and safety tax, tobacco tax, alcohol tax, payroll tax, profits tax, capital gains tax, death tax (that one’s a real kick in the coffin), and no doubt, many other taxes. By the way, have you received the local property tax hikes in this week's mail? Meanwhile, the General Assembly is considering an increase to the state gas tax and the Trump administration wants an increase in the federal gas tax. Nice.

Among the popular sales pitches to pass additional tax levies is the old song-and-dance that “It’s only another $1 a day/week/month on a property valued at $100,000.” Or, “It’s only another cup of coffee a day/week/month.” (Note to higher tax supporters: Always refrain from saying “It’s just a pack of cigarettes a day/week/month. Smokers might call you out on that one.)

Still, those cups of coffee add up after awhile; and after being applied to the multiple never-ending levies, they do eventually cut into one’s disposable income, even more so as property values increase, as they always do, per our government.

This week, the Highland County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution for a .5-mill “replacement” levy for the Highland County Health Department. Voters rejected the same levy last November.

The Board of Health opted to bring it back for the May 7 primary (with an anticipated lower voter turnout) at a cost to taxpayers of $11,000-$12,000 just to place it on the ballot.

On the surface, the levy does not appear unreasonable or excessive.

But then there’s this big old horsefly in the ointment. The county commissioners and the health commissioner have spoken publicly about the new levy being used for some of the same purposes in Paint Township as the much publicized – and ultimately futile – $843,498 U.S. Department of Justice grant for the Rocky Fork Lake region that was announced with way too much Republican Party fanfare in October 2016 – a few weeks ahead of the general election.

The Rocky Fork Lake grant was overly promoted by Republicans – from Washington, D.C. to Columbus to Highland County – running for re-election. And it was grossly under-delivered by the same politicians. (It’s a wonder they didn’t break an arm or two with all the obligatory pats on the backs at the empty-suit press conferences in this classic case of counting chickens before they’re hatched.)

On top of that, according to the county commissioners, “From what we’ve done so far, there is a possibility the county will have to pay back some of that money that’s already been spent (from the grant that never materialized). Unfortunately, that’s a possibility.”

Talk about adding insult to injury.

In December, one commissioner said the county wasn’t capable of handling the grant – even though it’s handled others in the past. “Small counties like ours don’t have the ability to administer grants of this size,” one commissioner said.

For the record, much smaller counties in Ohio have administered much larger grants.

It seems that part of the Board of Health levy’s support from the commissioners may be an attempt to save face in the aftermath of the loss of the $843,498 U.S. Department of Justice grant. If true, that’s a shameful reality.

Otherwise, the levy seems OK on the surface. And if 72 voters stay home on May 7, it will likely pass. It was rejected, 6,697-6,625, by local voters three months ago.

* * *

• And then there’s this little gem from Massachusetts Democrat, Lilliputian Native American and would-be president Elizabeth Warren.

As reported by Nicole Kaeding and Kyle Pomerleau for the Tax Foundation (https://taxfoundation.org/warren-wealth-tax/), “Warren has announced plans for a ‘wealth tax’ on high-net-worth individuals, a type of tax that is flawed economically and administratively. (There are also constitutional questions about assessing a wealth tax.)”

Warren’s proposal would assess a 2-percent yearly “wealth tax” on individuals with more than $50 million, and it would increase to 3 percent on those with more than $1 billion.

Granted, Warren’s socialistic new tax will never affect me. It won’t affect very many people I know. Nevertheless, it’s still wrong. Moreover, once implemented by the government, any “wealth tax” will be open to future interpretation – and future increases – by future politicians.

It soon becomes very subjective. For example, suppose one works hard, sacrifices and saves for 40 or 50 years and forgoes the more extravagances in life. He or she wakes up one morning at 75, opens the newspaper (assuming newspapers are still around), and learns of this new “wealth tax.” So much for hard work and sacrifice. Might as well buy lottery tickets and PBR with each paycheck.

As the Tax Foundation report said: “Normal returns are effectively the returns to waiting; that is, the rate of return an individual requires to make it worthwhile to save money and delay consumption. The taxation of normal returns can ultimately impact an individual’s investment decisions. This is why economists generally favor exempting these returns from taxation.”

No kidding.

Lord knows we are taxed enough already.

But of all the taxes listed herein and those I may have forgotten, I’d truly love to qualify for the Pocahontas wealth tax. Maybe someday.

Meanwhile, lottery tickets and PBR might not be bad investments, after all.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press, Highland County’s only locally owned and operated newspaper.

• P.S.: Special thanks this week to John Barney for his assistance on a cold delivery day. He can explain.