Sunday, April 11, 2004

From Yesterday's Dallas Morning News

The "sin tax" is a great concept--raise money for something most people agree is good (say, schools) by taxing something most people agree is bad (say, tobacco). A "sin tax" being kicked around Austin right now involves, among other things, raising taxes on cigarettes, adult entertainment--and soft drinks. But why stop there? Aren't there other things that we'd all like to see taxed into oblivion? Here are some modest proposals: Cellphone use: A per-minute tax for people who talk while driving. And while we're at it--a fee for annoying ring tones that go off in public. Guys who peel rubber: Measure the tread mark, charge by the inch. Double after 9 p.m. Small children in R-rated movies: The rate increases 1 percent for each dirty word they learn. Cursing in public: Police could carry around a coffee can and collect a quarter per expletive, just like Mom used to do with Dad. Low-rise jeans: Because they make everyone look fat, even the skinny girls. Remember, the idea of a "sin tax" is supposed to be for your own good. Plastic grocery bags: Print the name of the store on them, tax the store for each one caught in a tree limb or fluttering across a vacant lot. Car salesmen: Forget raising taxes on cars--let's go after the guys who TALK THIS LOUD in their own commercials. (Additional fees may apply; title and license charges not included; your mileage from this idea may vary.) "Free" chips and salsa at restaurants: Actually, we like chips and salsa. So let's tax stale chips and tepid salsa. Probably cooked up by some Northerners--let's tax them, while we're at it, unless they know that when we ask for HOT sauce down here, we mean it. People who bring 13 items in the "12 items or less" checkout lane: Charge per excess item. Reality programs on TV: Stations that air more than one hour per night would have to make a donation to PBS. Silly ideas from politicians, and journalists who write endlessly about them: The rate rises depending on how much each report raised the average reader's blood pressure. Texas Living staff

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