Now that the bill has come due for the deficit, and all who can read George Bush's lips are expected to chip in, much concern is being expressed over exactly what and who are to be taxed. Essentially, of course, taxes are only acceptable if you and yours escape tax-free.
So The Chronicler, who cares deeply about social justice, has been joining in the great executive and legislative meditation on how to tax everyone except us.
The answer, in the first place, is to follow the Ronald Reagan ploy of calling the tax by another name. "User fee" has become hallowed in the Republican vocabulary. "Fine," a monetary punishment, is another splendid possibility.
A fine could be levied against both individuals and parties who break campaign promises.
Campaign vows not to raise taxes would be fined at double the usual rate. The decisions as to the size of the fine and the guilt of the promiser would be made by a jury composed of thecandidates who opposed and lost to the promise breaker. The monies raised by such levies would go to help defray campaign costs. It is anticipated that the money raised would be sufficient to totally fund most presidential campaigns.
Sworn statements by candidates to "keep us out of war" or to "bring the boys home," when not fulfilled, could be taxed by requiring the prevaricator to himself volunteer for active duty, or, if deemed unfit, be taxed by an amount equal to his salary to fund environmental work by conscientious objectors. The jury here could be chosen from a select list of Gold Star Mothers.
A tax on all campaign allegations, rumors and innuendos that can't be proved would no doubt improve the moral tone of elections. The jurors should be selected from people who have lost elections caused by such sneers and smears.
But creative assessments should, of course, not be limited to politicians, who already have a heavy burden to carry because of the nature of their life's work. Dissenters,who claim the right to complain against established order, could also be put to raising revenues.
Flag burners, protected as the Supreme Court has judged under free speech provisions, would be required, as a safety measure, to get a permit first. The permit fees could be used to fireproof all flags. Eventually, of course, this tax would be self-limiting.
All participants in parades, demonstrations, rallies etc. should either, as has recently been decreed in Washington, pay a fee to clean up the streets and keep order, or -- in the case of people protesting poverty, unemployment, lack of a living wage etc., who can't afford a fee -- agree to clean up after themselves and behave in an orderly manner.
The Mothers of Prevention, as they have been called, who object to some rock music (if that is what it should be called) could nominate record companies and performers to be fined for obscene lyrics (if lyric is the right word). The Mothers would, of course, have to first prove that they and their imperiled minors could understand all the dirty words. Performers whose outpourings could not be deciphered would be exempt from prosecution. The accumulated fines would be earmarked for poetry scholarships at some highly accredited school.
Museum directors, boards of regents, art critics and the general public would, of course, be within their rights to denounce as inartistic photographs, sculptures, paintings and stuffed goats offered for public display. If, however, such works were exhibited -- and defenders of the public morality objected to the content on grounds of obscenity, offenses to ethnic or religious groups etc. -- the public judges would be permitted to impose a ticket system for consenting adults. The ticket prices would go to make repairs on all decaying museums.
Surely some sort of fine or tax could be laid upon those faxing unauthorized material, especially those endeavoring to persuade someone to do or buy something. It might be a problem to enforce, but something should be done. Perhaps there could be a charge, like unto a long distance telephone fee, on all unsolicited fax submissions. The money could go to improve the postal service.
Speaking of the postal service, the cost for bulk mailing of unrequested material, especially those alleging that You The Chronicler May Have Already Won a Million Dollars, could be immediately doubled. Beleaguered recipients, who have to get rid of this trash, would rise up and call the postal service blessed.
Socially, of course, a great many fines and/or user fees spring to mind -- for being late to seated dinners, for accepting parties you never intend to attend, for omitting to write thank-you notes to your hostess, for giving outdoor parties in July and August, for saying you'll call back and not doing so, for neglecting to offer tea as well as coffee after dinner, for smoking in non-smoking areas, or not providing a smoking area for consenting adults etc. Of course, these heinous offenses are difficult to police. Perhaps we could make such fines/fees conscience money. If everyone were the great moral figure they pretend to be, there would be no need to balance the budget.