John C. Goodman

If you care a lot about inequality, an argument could be made for taxing college professors and giving the money to people whose work experience is boring, uninteresting, unfulfilling and has no purpose (for them) other than paying their bills.

If you believe Tom Wolfe, the most important thing on the list above is status. In Wolfe's novels, status is far more important than income ? for almost everybody. What are some indictors of status? Being quoted in major newspapers. Being interviewed on TV. Winning a Nobel Prize. By way of contrast, think of all the people who have never been quoted in any newspaper, who have never been on TV and who have never won any prize. I believe there is far more inequality of status than inequality of income, although I'm not sure how to measure these things.

In any event, if inequality bothers you, think about a special tax on Nobel Prize winners, on TV talk show guests and on people whose names appear in the national news media ? with the proceeds distributed, of course, to people who have no status. Anyone called "counselor" or "esquire" or "doctor" is an obvious candidate for a status tax. Someone called both "professor" and "doctor" ought to be a candidate for double taxation. If the professor/doctor also has an eponymous blog, make that a triple tax!

I definitely would include politicians. In fact, if status is what is most important in life, there should be a special tax on elected officials and a huge tax on whoever is president.

There is a closely related issue. In my line of work I meet an enormous number of people who are frustrated because the world pays no attention to what they think. They have no forum from which to get their ideas in front of everyone else.

But imagine you could be an editorial writer for The New York Times. Better, imagine you could say anything you wanted to say ? ignoring facts and even saying things that are demonstrably untrue. Plus, no matter what you say, you never have to publish a retraction or apologize. Imagine that you could use your column to say mean and nasty things about people you don't like and you could call them any name The NYT regards as "fit to print."

Now imagine auctioning off the right to have this job. How much do you think people would be willing to pay? I'll bet there would be some willing to pay $1 million for the opportunity.

In any event, there should be a special tax on whoever gets this job. A very big tax.


John C. Goodman

John C. Goodman is Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute and author of the widely acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts."