The poor subsidize the rich, again

this time in a particularly down-at-heel part of New Mexico, the poorest state in the Union.

Residents in the US state of New Mexico have approved a new tax to build the nation’s first commercial spaceport.

Supporters including New Mexico’s governor and billionaire, Richard Branson, had called the tax vote a make-or-break election for the port.

But others say the money should go towards improving local problems and resent having to subsidise the activities of wealthy space tourists.

Taxes will contribute about $50m (£25m) in to the nearly $200m project.

Dona Ana County is a relatively poor and bleak swathe of desert in southern New Mexico with fewer than 200,000 residents.

But voters passed a 0.25% increase in the local sales tax to help contribute to the cost of building Spaceport America.

Sir Richard Branson has signed a long-term lease with the state of New Mexico to make the new spaceport the headquarters of his Virgin Galactic space tourism business.

The spaceport is expected to open in 2009, and Virgin Galactic says space flights will cost around $200,000 for a 2.5-hour flight.

Of course, this is stupider than seagull shit. Because it begs the obvious questions: Hey, isn’t Branson a billionaire, with a B? Can’t he afford to pay for it out of his own well-lined pocket? How about all those rich people he plans to ferry into space for a Gilligan’s Island tour? Can’t they pony up? Or is it all so much too rich for their collective blood that they simply must tax everyone who can least afford it–those who will never in their lives taste the goshwowery of it all?

The very least they could do is follow the example of airports everywhere–tax the travellers only. But noooo. That would drive the millionaire tourists away. Supply Side Jesus wouldn’t like that! Render unto Caesar so that his wealthy cronies can stay that way, capisce?

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