Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi A Taxing Idea

By Captain Opinion

NOVEMBER 29, 1999:  They are ideas that have always sent me sputtering and wishing that the House and Senate still had committees on Un-American Activities: Using the tax code to engineer social change, a so-called "progressive" income tax, wealth redistribution and hamburgers made out of vegetables.

I hated the wealth redistribution crowd. To me they were ambitionless, talentless losers who could get money only by having the government steal it for them from those who had talent and ambition and who got up every day and worked for their money. They were full of malicious envy and coveted what they could not get on their own. They never had the confidence or the drive to start a business and make it a success. They never had the stomach for 18-hour days. If they had those qualities, they too might be worth billions like Bill Gates.

But I've changed my mind. The crushing poverty and the frightening ignorance that afflicts so many of our citizens demands that we use the tax code to engineer social progress. The disparity in income between the haves and the have-nots is sickening. With judicious use of the tax code we can eliminate poverty and drive ignorance from our shores. In fact, by using this tool we can eliminate stupidity, cure every other social ill and probably rid the nation of gout.

The only way to chase away poverty is to tweak the tax code so that it is prejudiced against poverty. How do we do that? By turning the income tax code inside out. Instead of taxing wealth, we should tax poverty. Instead of telling people, "The more you make, the more we'll tax you," we should warn them, "The less you make the more we'll tax you."

This is revolutionary. If we make the tax burden unbearable for people at the lower end of the income scale, if we tax poverty at 90 percent, our nation's poor will have an incentive to go out and become millionaires. Rather than hunting for low-paying, dignity-sapping menial jobs, they'll mob the colleges and night schools and get so many business degrees that we'll run out of trees on which to print them. And when they put that knowledge to work and start businesses, we'll flood the export markets with so many video games, boxes of beef jerky, and useless electronic gadgets that the Chinese will wish they never joined the World Trade Organization.

Invert the tax code and eliminate the tax on wealth and in just five years we'll be referring in this country to 14,000-square-foot brick homes as shanties. If we tax poverty, then cardboard boxes will never again be used here as homes. They'll be used as intended: to pack large, expensive appliances for shipment to consumers.

It's not just poverty that will be brought to its knees by an inverted tax code. Stupidity too will crumble before this wrecking ball of social progress.

Anyone dumb enough to put their hand in the path of a running chainsaw and then file a product liability lawsuit would be taxed out of their homes, beer coolers and third-grade readers. People who spill hot coffee on their laps and then whine about being burned will be taxed out of their aluminum walkers. Those who wear soiled underwear and then complain that they don't have any friends would be taxed out of their yellowed garments. Once it's clear that stupidity will be taxed heavily, the dimwits will stop complaining of headaches after pounding themselves on the heads with hammers. And they'll stop acting stupid.

Nowhere will this concept of inverted taxation have a greater effect than in the areas of tobacco and alcohol abuse. Lifetime smokers who blame their tarred, wheezing, cancerous lungs on tobacco companies would be taxed at a 150 percent rate. They could escape the taxes by agreeing to move to Canada.

Boozers who blame their encrusted livers on distillers and brewers would be subjected to a brain tax levy. They'd be forced to turn over their brains to the government for destruction. Faced with such socially progressive taxing mechanisms, the boozers and smokers will take to drinking herb teas and breathing ionized air.

There's another group who will benefit from this taxing scheme: those who have advocated the current, primitive and ambition-stiffling tax structure that punishes wealth and rewards sloth. We'll tax them by seizing their pens, scraps of paper, typewriters and computers. Freed of the burden to spout idiotic ideas, they can go and do the work that God meant them to do:

Collect garbage.

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