Commentary: Stop making the sinners payStop making the sinners pay
The government has it all wrong. Yeah, yeah, I know. Who’s ever heard THAT before? “This Just In: Water Is Wet.”
What’s got my knickers in a big old knotted ball is the age-old practice of politicians balancing their financial shortsightedness on the backs of the little guy.
The little BAD guy. I’m talking about sin taxes. Of which I might be secreting a bit more firsthand outrage than the rest of you guys, since I’m pretty much that little bad guy everybody is talking about.
Oh yeah, I’m bad. I eat red meat. Often. And I drink and even smoke. Not so often, but still. Not much into sweets, but make up for it with the savories. And what drives me nuttier is the self-righteous attitude these pillars of the community adopt while squeezing folks like me tighter than a two-headed nickel in Vise-Grips.
We sin-tax targets aren’t allowed to squawk either, because, well … we’re sinners. We’re expected to quietly cower in our greasy, damp, smoky, doughnut-crumb-littered corner, as they slap and gouge us for doing things every fourth grader knows oughtn’t be done. Like pouring stuff into our bodies that is used to wash the rust off of chrome bumpers. And possessing less impulse control than a mountain lion in a fish market after closing time.
It may seem short-term tempting, but I’m convinced these new liquor, cigarette and sodie pop surcharges are entirely the 180-degree wrong way to go. It’s a scientific fact that we degenerate reprobates kick off early. Every time I eat, I can hear my arteries harden. And that’s what the government should be encouraging. It’s those darn health nuts that end up lingering. They’re the ones sucking up all our Social Security and Medicare money.
So I propose; instead of sin taxes, we go the other way around entirely, and institute a series of saint taxes. Holistic tariffs. Longevity levies. You want to live forever? Fine: Pay for it. First we throw an excise fee onto fresh fruit. Subsidize distilleries. French fries and cigarettes are handed out like government cheese, but every six months you are required to apply to the DMV for a license to wear a seat belt. Joggers pay tolls based on GPS readouts in their shoes. Beer drinkers receive cash rebates for every six-pack consumed and cholesterol credits can be sold or traded.
Fast-food vouchers are handed out on street corners to make up for tofu being illegal and asparagus only available by prescription. Water fountains are removed from public parks and replaced with salt licks. Possession of sunblock is a felony and the only place to get vitamins is from waitresses in jazz clubs. Stress is ladled out free of charge on a regular basis by the federal government. And finally, you can waltz into any bar in the country for nothing but are charged incredible amounts of money to see a doctor. This whole paradigm shift should be easy to implement, especially when you consider those last three are already in place. Four, depending on how loosely you define the meaning of the word “vitamins.”
• Will Durst is a San Francisco-based political comic who writes sometimes. This is one of them.