The Post asks in its Nov. 10 editorial "The Best Second-Best Tax," "What tax capable of raising enough money do you like better" than an increased gasoline tax, which is both regressive and an additional burden on businesses struggling to become competitive with foreign producers? A tax I like better is a "conspicuous consumption tax."
Individuals and businesses often inflate their egos by engaging in conspicuous consumption by purchasing excessively expensive items and services, such as stretch limousines, large yachts and airplanes, hotel suites, sumptuous meals, huge estates, expensive fur coats, other clothing and jewelry and art works. These items have no utilitarian value that cannot be satisfied by far less expensive substitutes, and their purchasers do not have to make hard choices between buying them or paying housing, utility, educational or medical costs.
Since these are purely ego-boosting items, I propose that we place, say, a 100 percent conspicuous consumption tax on them upon purchase or rental.
To satisfy The Post's concern that excessive use of gasoline be curtailed, all high-powered automobiles, boats, airplanes and other motorized devices not purchased or rented to meet a specific productive need should also be subject to the conspicuous consumption tax. The purchase of art works by museums should be exempted because the art would remain in the public domain. Other exemptions may also be appropriate.
Those whose egos can't quite stretch to cover a 100 percent tax load on such items would be encouraged either to save or to invest their money in productive ventures, thereby benefiting themselves and the country as a whole.
DONALD L. MOORE Alexandria