THURS-TUES, 5/8-15/13, Issue 339
How to fix the pension mess: Over the last two decades, city hall should have been funding the police and fire pensions, but it wasn’t. Mayors John Delaney and John Peyton and various city councils understood that the city’s residents don’t like taxes. There are at least two sides to the pension-fund issue, but it’s not my purpose here to point fingers.
Whoever caused it, today we’re in a pickle. The ‘chickens have come home to roost,’ so to speak. The only way now to come up with the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to cover the shortfall is to levy a tax. There’s no alternative. (Sorry, TEA Party, I’ve got to break with you on this one.) So, let me offer a solution of my own devising.
People speculate about potential tax windfalls from gambling and legalizing marijuana. Both pale in comparison with the revenue that could be generated by taxing narcissism. Under my plan, the city’s denizens once each year would report on a questionnaire the level of self-admiring pride they take in their own abilities, accomplishments, and appeal. The questions on the survey would be worded to elicit accurate data about self regard. The system would be progressive: the rate of assessment would be tied to the amount of vanity reported, with those admitting to greater amounts paying proportionately higher rates.
The self-regard survey would operate on the honor system, and each year after the surveys were collected they would be posted online for public scrutiny under the state’s Sunshine Law. Anyone would be able to look up and see how much pride in themselves their friends, neighbors, and/or colleagues revealed. The only exception would be for those divulging a sense of shame. Under this provision’s exception, the answers on Rick Scott’s questionnaire would remain confidential.
While gender and sex stereotypes would be prohibited in the self-regard questionnaire, certain biases would be unavoidable.
For example, males would have to disclose to what degree they possess the same traits Peyton Manning has. The more qualities a man believes he has in common with the Denver Broncos quarterback, the higher the assessment. The same holds true for men over 70 who compare themselves favorably to John Wayne.
Men would have to report how many pounds they can press at the gym or how many miles they typically run each week. The bigger the numbers, the higher the taxes. Men who wear muscle shirts automatically would be taxed at a steep rate.
Men claiming to be prodigiously endowed would be assessed by the inch. Men reporting that women find them irresistible would enter the top bracket. However, they would only be allowed to fill out this part of the questionnaire after having consumed at least three beers.
Men would have to report whether they got to where they are today solely through their own efforts. The tax imposed would be inversely proportional to the amount of help received, with those claiming to have never received any help from anyone paying the greatest tax.
Women would have to report how beautiful or cute they or their children are. The cuter or more beautiful, the higher the tax. The same goes for reporting how exciting, happy, fulfilling, and satisfying their lives are. Tax collectors would verify the self-reports by checking the women’s FaceBook pages.
Women would be taxed for each conversation they begin with “I just came from the gym.” Those who “accidentally” let it slip in conversation with other women how slender their waist measurement is or how small their dress size or low their weight would be taxed. The lower the numbers, the higher the taxes. Women who buy their clothes at Walmart would receive a rebate. Those saying they look good in yoga pants would be assessed a surcharge.
Under this regime, women who shop at Lululemon could never be over-taxed.
Various sub categories would be swept up in the tax net:
- The city would levy a 10-cent tax per selfie.
- Parents would have to pay according to the accomplishments they claim for their children.
- The more a person thinks he or she is an expert on the nation’s problems and how to fix them, the higher the tax imposed.
- Lacto-vegetarians would be taxed at a lower rate than ovo-vegetarians, and both would be taxed less than vegans.
- Gay men bragging they were conscious of being gay at the moment they were conceived in the womb would pay the highest tax of all.
Given people’s propensity to overstate their skills, abilities, qualities, loyalties, and identities, the pension-fund shortfall should be filled in no time.
The only legitimate criticism of my proposal may be this one: the more that boasting, bragging, and self-regarding admiration are taxed, the more likely humility will come back into fashion. However, who seriously believes that THAT will ever happen!
Great minds know that paying taxes is for idiots. That’s why I won’t ever pay a dime. What do ya think I am, stupid? Great minds, you know. I don’t have any pride. Pride is for idiots. And for that reason, I here entreat those who have any tincture of this absurd vice, that they will not presume to come in my sight.
August’s List: Recently published music videos, edited by Farinelli. Watch & listen