Every city, county and state government is trying to think up new ways of raising tax dollars. All the obvious things have already been taxed, such as income, cigarettes, gasoline, parking, liquor, everything you buy in a store etc., etc., and it's almost impossible to come up with something new that doesn't already have a tax on it.
I was therefore very impressed with a new revenue-raising idea proposed by Merriweather Sample, who found something to tax that nobody else had thought of it. In America today, this is the equivalent of discovering a new constellation in the sky or a virus without a name or a noncarcinogenic spray that will kill fire ants.
Sample revealed his plan at a secret meeting of the board of supervisors of Bleeding County.
"Gentlemen, I think I have it, I propose we put a tax on jogging."
There was a look of surprise from everyone in the room.
"Jogging?" someone said.
Sample continued, "There are thousands of joggers running all around our county right now and it isn't costing them one cent. I say they've been getting a free ride for too long."
One nervous supervisor asked, "But how can we tax men and women for just running around?"
"It's simple. They're using county roads and sidewalks to jog. Do you realize the damage they're doing everytime they clomp on the asphalt or the pavement?" Sample asked.
"I didn't know runners do damage," another supervisor said.
"Take a walk around and see for yourself. There are cracks everywhere, and they were made by pounding feet. There is just so much abuse a pavement can take from a 200-pound man and a 110-pound woman. If they just ran in their bare feet it would be one thing, but most of them wear sneakers and running shoes. We're not just talking about one or two people. There are thousands of joggers out there destroying our streets and sidewalks and someone has to pay for it."
A lady supervisor said, "If we start taxing people for jogging there will be a terrible uproar. Many people consider it the only free thing they're permitted to do."
Sample scoffed at the comment. "Joggers get pleasure out of running, just as other people get pleasure from drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. No one tells them they have to jog. But if they're going to do it, and if they feel it gives them a lift, let them pay for it."
"What kind of tax did you have in mind?"
"I think at the beginning we could require them to buy a license for $5 a year. It would be printed on cardboard so they could wear it on the back of their running suits. Then we could add a surcharge of one cent for each mile they run."
Sample grinned, "That's the beauty of it. Most joggers love to lie about how far they've run. I never met one yet who didn't exaggerate the number of miles he completed in a day. Every jogger will be gladly pay extra money just to impress other runner."
"It might work," a supervisor said.
Sample hit the table, "Running for free is the last big tax loophole in America, and it's our job to close it."
One supervisor asked, "What do we tell our jogging friends when they say it's unfair that they have to pay to exercise?"
"Just tell them 'Life is unfair.'"