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Issue: Meal Tax

September 05, 1993| Compiled by Mary Helen Berg Times Community Correspondent

Dade County, Fla., has enacted a 1% tax on meals at large restaurants that is expected to raise $7.5 million annually to help the homeless. The money will be used to build shelters and provide access to medical and substance abuse treatment and job training. Would you support such a tax here?

* Dalia Jaramillo, Caltrans right-of-way agent "Something does have to be done. I guess if you're rich enough to go to a restaurant, an additional 1% is not like they're putting it on your regular staple food, so I guess I wouldn't be too opposed to that. If you're at a very, very nice restaurant and you look out the window and there's someone who's not eating, there is something clearly wrong there when one has so much and another has so little. It's even a sin to throw food away if you don't give it to your dog or something when clearly there are so many people here who do need the basic necessities.It's a dreadful situation."

* Thomas Lee Brown, homeless man "Yes, of course. It would help alleviate the homeless people that are on the streets if we had some extra money going to fix up some of these vacant buildings. Right now, the shelters, the missions, are not able to hold all of us. I've been (in the mission) for four weeks now. I sit in a chair every night, sleep in a chair. I sleep sitting up. My feet swell up sometimes. It could be used for more beds and more buildings. We have vacant buildings right across from the mission that are not even being used. That money could be put to use to renovate and clean up those buildings."

* Harry Spillman, Los Angeles signal designer "No. I think the record is rather clear on this point that dedicated taxes don't work. You create large bureaucracies that feed the bureaucracy. I don't have any faith in government to accomplish anything useful. I'd rather see the private sector handle this type of stuff. I've never known of government giving money to anything without attaching regulations and conditions. Why should those who go to restaurants have to pay for this sort of stuff, anyway? It sounds like some sort of a socialistic, idealistic kind of concept where those that have are required to give to those that have not. It may sound sort of strong, but in my mind in a case like this the government is an agent of theft--where they take it from you and give to me."

* De Vollier Clay, student "Yes. I find that would be a good idea to help the homeless. It would get some of the people off the street and give people an opportunity to enhance their lives. The money could go to shelters and feeding the people. Things of that nature. It wouldn't bother me if there were an additional 1% on my restaurant bill. That's only if the money is directed toward this (project.)"

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