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03.19.09

While We're at It, 12 More Outrages To Tax

Now that the House has approved a bill to slap a 90 percent tax on the AIG bonuses, Richard Cohen has a few other tax targets for Congress to consider—including gun owners, reality-TV producers, and contractors who don’t finish jobs on time.

Every once in a while, no matter how inadvertently, Congress comes up with a dandy idea. This is the case with the bill, passed with commendable alacrity by the House on Thursday, which would tax the bonuses given the AIG Bonus Babies at the 90 percent rate. I heartily applaud this grandstanding and suggest only that if the tax code is going to be applied for political reasons, why stop with the AIG boys? Why not, say, include gun dealers as well?

I suggest the 95 percent bracket to anyone who sells guns, the 96 percent bracket to anyone who sells assault rifles to anyone who can reasonably be called “a loner,” and the 110 percent bracket if any gun they sold can be traced to a crime. This seems only fair.

I recommend a high tax for TV weatherpeople who say "snowfall" rather than "snow" and local anchors anywhere who call a story "emotional" when they actually could not care less.

I also suggest an exceedingly high tax bracket for anyone who works for a cigarette company and makes more than $100,000 a year. I recommend—based on the usual task-force report—100 percent. I know that this is even higher than the bracket suggested for the AIG gonifs, but credit swaps, when used as directed, will not kill you, while cigarettes most certainly can. No one should make a dime off cigarettes.

Moving on, I suggest the 93 percent bracket for any drug-company executive whose firm is found to have monkeyed around with test results or who sell a product that is, as is often the case, later found to be either no improvement over the previous product or totally useless. Why these people should simply be allowed to issue a denial and then go on making huge amounts of money is beyond me. I suggest, in fact, the 96 percent bracket for a period of at least 10 years—or until the patent on their worthless piece of crap runs out.

I would put the creators and producers of all TV-reality shows in the 90 percent bracket. I realize that no one has died from watching a reality show, but by making it highly unprofitable to create such a show, we can at least rid the airwaves of this garbage and possibly return to the days of written dramas, situation comedies, the odd documentary, and Omnibus.

Anyone who drives a Hummer should be in the 100 percent bracket.

Selling short, which is surely immoral, should be taxed at 110 percent of profit.

The profits from movies about teenagers should be taxed at least 43 percent higher than the profits of movies about mature people who speak in complete sentences and have real problems. In the case of teenage movies, the taxes shall be levied on the gross, not the net, because unlike teenagers we were not born yesterday.

The pensions of all public employees should be taxed at a rate of no less than 50 percent to discourage them from retiring after 20 years, especially if they are on disability and play golf all day.

Tattoo artists shall be taxed at a rate no higher than Hummer owners but no lower than cheating government retirees. I suggest 84.3 percent per annum, per tattoo, per whether the tattoo is visible to a stranger, namely me.

The same rule shall be applied to the tips of waiters who spoil your appetite by piercing their nose or lip in such a manner as to make one gag.

Contractors who finish a job as promised shall not be taxed at all while those who are late (for any reason) shall be taxed at a rate increasing by 10 percent a week until they are out of business entirely and found weeping at your door.

I recommend a high tax bracket for doctors who don’t cure, dentists who say outrageous things when they are Roto-Rootering your mouth, TV weatherpeople who say “snowfall” rather than “snow” and local anchors anywhere who call a story “emotional” when they actually could not care less. Finally, the 100 percent bracket for all those precocious editors at People magazine who appear on TV, call celebrities by the first name and pretend they know what’s really happening. I’d lower their rate if they’d go to journalism school.

Richard Cohen is a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post.