PostScript gets sunburn for free, too (istockphoto).
PostScript gets sunburn for free, too. (istockphoto).

There was no PostScript when Obamacare was being debated before it became law, so it’s a relief to move from the shifting ground of National Security Agency intelligence gathering, where people are still figuring out their positions and turning against parties they normally support, to get a li’l Obamacare fighting in. We all know just where we stand! Where we were four years ago.

Kathleen Parker writes today that it gets absurd quickly when we all get up into everyone else’s health-care decisions. It means the Internal Revenue Service has to determine whether or not a tanning bed is part of a health club, for example, and it means a religious organization will be forced to pay premiums that cover medical care the organization doesn’t care for.

Such as birth control. PostScript enjoys health-care coverage from her employer that covers birth control. And everyone reading this right now is contributing to her employer’s bottom line. Which means that every single commenter, by viewing advertisements, is now indirectly involved in that. Thanks, guys!

But when it comes to less-obvious public goods, like raising tax revenue from tanning beds because of their link to preventable skin cancer, agreement is not quite so unanimous. And the comments section got heavy, fast:

TheHillman

I have skin cancer. So far it’s been thousands of dollars in treatment. A buddy has it even worse. So far it’s cost his insurer about half a million dollars for his treatment. So, yes, a sin tax on the idiocy of inviting skin cancer by sitting in a tanning bed is more than justifiable.
I fully own my responsibility for my skin cancer. I got it twenty years ago, but even then there were warnings about too much sun. A tanning bed? That’s just idiocy, and it’s easily taxable.

WileE points out that TheHillman’s friend’s health expenditures — half a million, he said, covered by insurance — will be passed along to the other people insured by the same health insurance company. The tanning tax is actually less scare-quotes socialist than the current system:

So people who add to everyone else’s medical bills are going to be required to pay for their risky elective. And they are going to have to pay via the tax system! The outrage! We will tell our grandchildren about the time when we were still free to make others pay for the problems that we caused ourselves, even though we knew what we were doing raised our risks.

FarooqQasim blesses this solution on behalf of libertarians:

As a libertarian, I’m ok with this. Don’t want to pay tax, don’t use tanning bed. Same goes for smoking. I have no interest in paying for the cancer treatments you bring on yourselves.

But iseethroughthis thinks this idea could go in a lot of other directions:

I am sure STDs and complications from recreational drug use drive up healthcare costs every bit as much as tanning beds or cigarettes.

Can we tax something that’s already illegal, though?

Other commenters are worried about the slippery slope. Taxing undesirable behaviors interferes with everyone’s fundamental human right to be undesirable:

Seasalt

Can we penalize halitosis?

Hmm. Those not lucky enough to have an employer willing to keep them from having children could go straight to the people with it. Why not Kickstarter? Have everyone write an essay and others could voluntarily donate to that person’s birth-control fund. It could get very competitive.