Taxing Ways

Debra J. Saunders

4/3/2002 12:00:00 AM - Debra J. Saunders
California State Sen. Don Perata wants to tax bullets -- at a rate of five cents per round -- and he plans to ask the state legislature to put a bullet tax on the November ballot. "Bullets cause injuries that are expensive to treat, and generally speaking, the public is footing the bill," Perata told KTVU last week. He added that a bullet tax -- with the revenue going to California's trauma centers, since they treat gun wounds -- makes as much sense as the 50-cent-per-pack cigarette tax that sends money to health care and anti-smoking education. Great idea. So, as long as we're calling for new taxes on things we don't like under the pretense that the tax makes sense because of government costs incurred by a minority of practitioners, why stop there? Let's levy a new health-care tax on cars because, according to the Centers for Disease Control, cars injure more kids than guns. Let's tax fashion magazines because they contribute to anorexia, which drives up health costs. Let's tax potato-chip makers for contributing to obesity, which also increases health-care costs. Let's tax movies that show movie stars smoking, thus encouraging teen-agers to smoke, because teen-agers can grow into old farts who get cancer and drive up Medicare costs. Ditto movies with sex scenes -- which can contribute to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Let's tax gay bars and bathhouses because drinking and mingling can lead to the transmission of HIV and other STDs. For that matter, let's tax singles bars for heterosexuals, too. Let's tax chaise longues because sitting on them can contribute to skin cancer. Let's tax swimming pools because drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death for children under age 14. Let's tax all religions with clergy who molested children. Let's tax TV. Tax it two ways. First, put a tax on all TV sets because watching too much television can be bad for children's school performance. Then, take the study that showed that 28.8 percent of kids who watched three or more hours of TV a day committed "aggressive acts" -- versus 5.7 percent of kids who watched an hour of TV or less, and legislate a cable tax that is commensurately larger based on how many channels consumers buy. Let's raise bridge tolls at night because teen-agers are more likely to die in nighttime crashes. Let's tax gambling to pay for anti-gambling education. Let's tax fast-food to pay for public service announcements that nag junk-food eaters and tell them that they're fat. Let's tax fast-food to fund a tax credit for yogurt, fruits and vegetables so that people will eat more healthy foods. Let's tax cell phones because they can cause car accidents. Add a tax for billboards, car radios, other dashboard controls and take-out food because the American Automobile Association found that outside distractions, switching radio and other dashboard controls, and eating or drinking caused more accidents than cell-phone distraction. Let's tax men because men are more likely to commit crimes that land them in prison. Let's tax motorized scooters because we don't own one and they look like they'll cause accidents. Tax ski resorts and bicycles because they put people in trauma centers, too. Give a tax rebate for people who buy ski helmets and bike helmets. Let's tax churches that hurt gay people's feelings -- which, do-gooders say, leads to suicide. Let's tax dogs and cats so that the law-abiding folks who pay to register and neuter their pets can pay for a tax that never will be paid by less responsible pet owners who don't register or neuter their pets. Let's tax everyone who does things we don't like because they should be more like us. Let's tax bills proposed by busybody politicians who feel it's their job to single out activities they don't like for extra taxation. Better yet, let's not vote for them.