Sin-Tax Suggestions

Desperate budgets require desperate sources of revenue.

As state legislators struggle to close a $2.8 billion budget deficit, among the measures being considered to raise revenue is a $1 increase on the existing $2.025 sin tax for each pack of 20 cigarettes purchased in the state, which could contribute some $90 million to our next budget cycle.Gov. Chris Gregoire has already floated the idea of other sin taxes, possibly including soda, candy, and even bottled water. As the name suggests, sin taxes are intended to provide a social benefit (by discouraging undesirable behavior) while throwing off revenue in the process. But why stop there? Desperate budgets require desperate sources of revenue. Perhaps Gov. Gregoire and the state legislature should consider additional tax opportunities. We'll put the following 10 on the table:1. Axe Body Spray (all varieties). $1 per unit. Estimated revenue: $20 million. Social benefits: Insecure teenage males smell like ordinary insecure teenage males instead of like sirloin doused with floral-scented carpet cleaner; improved air quality for the rest of us.2. Bluetooth earpieces. $1.50 each, plus additional 50 cents if adorned with blinking blue light. Estimated revenue: $50 million. Social benefit: People talking on telephone no longer appear to be mentally disturbed.3. Scarves for men. $1 each with 25-cent penalty for silly knots. Estimated revenue: $10 million. Social benefit: Cravats make a comeback.4. John Mayer albums and concert tickets. $2 and $10, respectively. Estimated revenue: $50 million. Social benefit: Young men in Kent will be encouraged to save their money instead to fix up the Camaro sitting on cinder blocks in the front yard.5. High-waisted acid-washed jeans. $1.25. Estimated revenue: $30 million. Social benefits: Men over 40 are spared shame and social stigma; their children will now appear with them in public.6. Tickets to the movie Valentine's Day. $0.50. Estimated revenue: $25 million. Social benefit: Another nail in the coffin of Ashton Kutcher's career.7. Lapdogs. $0.25 for each ounce below 20 lbs. Estimated revenue: $15 million. Social benefit: Annoying, yappy, undersize dogs shall remain with Paris Hilton, where they belong.8. Beanies in summer. $1. Estimated revenue: $8 million. Social benefits: An end to haberdashery-thermal confusion among young men; renewed appreciation and understanding of prevailing weather conditions.9. Recumbent bicycles. $5. Estimated revenue: $6 million. Social benefit: When stopped at traffic lights, those riding normal upright bicycles will be spared the lecture about how much more efficient recumbents are.10. Snark. $0.10 per word. Estimated revenue: $3 million. Social benefit: Page-view-obsessed journalists won't toss off so many lazy blog items.

 
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