Death and Taxes and a Pound of Coffee

I had some errands this morning, including buying a pound of coffee at Dunkin’ D. (Coffee is the fuel that drives my blogging efforts.)

The coffee cost $8.99, so I handed the cashier a Ten Spot, knowing I would receive exactly $1.01 in change.

Let me tell you why.

Over thirty years ago, while walking in New York’s Greenwich Village, I came across a lovely store, “Schapira’s Coffee.” Mr. Schapira was a kindly gentlemen about 70 or so, and he gave me a brief tour. My fondest remembrance aside from him was the aroma of the coffee he was roasting.

I bought some coffee. After he added up the bill, I asked him if there was any sales tax.

He said, “Son, we settled that a long time ago. There is no tax on coffee.”

As I was driving home I started composing this post, and decided to use in the title part of a famous phrase from a man who was active while the coffee tax issue was being settled, Benjamin Franklin:

Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

I had planned to end the post by saying, “Though few things are certain in life besides death and taxes, there is one certainty in politics. No politician will propose a tax on coffee, as it would be the death of them in the next election.”

But then I searched “coffee tax” on the web, and learned there is a more certain political reality — there is no lower bound to the chutzpah of our elected officials. See for example, Seattle set for coffee tax poll.

Fortunately, the voters had more sense: Voters in Seattle, Where Coffee is King, Reject a Tax on Espresso.

By the way, Schapira’s Coffee is still in business, though like myself it is now located in Westchester. Mr. Schapira’s sons have even written a book on coffee: The Book of Coffee and Tea: Second Revised Edition.

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