Down in Olympia, legislators are struggling to close a $2.8 billion budget deficit, as The Seattle Times and others are reporting. Among measures being considered to raise revenue is a $1 increase on the existing $2.025 sin tax for each package of 20 cigarettes purchased in the state, which could contribute some $90 million to our next budget cycle.
Think of the revenues! And the improved air quality.
Gov. Chris Gregoire has already floated the idea of other sin taxes, possibly including (per a P-I report) soda, candy, and even bottled water. (How is bottled water a sin? The energy cost of the plastic bottle, as opposed to filling your own with tap water.) That soda and candy are fattening and unhealthy is more obvious. And as with its taxing alcohol and tobacco, the nanny state can attempt to modify our unhealthy appetites. (Taxation and social engineering go hand in hand.) But why stop with cigarettes? Desperate budgets require desperate sources of revenue. Perhaps Gov. Gregoire and the state legislature should consider some 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 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. Social benefit: Young men in Kent will be encouraged to save their money instead to fix up the Camaro sitting on cinderblocks in the front yard.
5. High-waisted acid-wash 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.