In the ongoing fracas between Republican members of the Minnesota House and author Neil Gaiman, an interesting piece of information has come to light concerning Gaiman’s 2010 appearance in Stillwater paid for by taxpayers. Gaiman was not only paid $45,000 of the four-hour event, he was also paid an additional $2,719.18 in “travel expenses.”
From the Star Tribune:
Library officials said the nearly $2,800 in expenses included flying Gaiman to Stillwater from Chicago, where he was at the time of the April 2010 appearance. Gaiman said the expenses also included lodging. “They picked up a hotel room for me, which I used to change and have a nap,” he said. “Twenty-seven hundred dollars seems unlikely.”
Unlikely? This whole story seems unlikely. The only thing more absurd than charging a public library $45,000 for a four-hour appearance is to also charge that same public library $2,800 for your travel from another appearance and a hotel room so you can take a nap.
This wasn’t just tax money that was wasted, it was money collected from the state sales tax. Of all the types of taxes, sales taxes are the most regressive kind of taxes there are. Sales taxes inherently impose a bigger burden on the poor than they do on the rich.
I’m not one of those people who thinks taxes are bad. Far from it. I think there are many just and valid reasons for a government to impose taxes on its citizens, both the rich and the poor.
Paying for a hotel room so Neil Gaiman can take a nap isn’t one of those reasons.
If you paid someone $45,000 to spend an afternoon with 500 of their fans, you might think they could pay their own travel expenses. What a shame Gaiman couldn’t just do that.