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Don`t read this column if you`re fat and/or ugly

As I See It

The airwaves are full of tobacco companies urging our opposition to the proposed “tobacco tax” now being deliberated in Congress. They say it is just another $500 million tax increase clothed in the rhetorical sheep`s clothing of discouraging folks from smoking. I agree.

As the often quoted Elizabeth Browning would have said, a tax is a tax is a tax. To my knowledge there is not a shred of evidence that this tax increase will prevent anybody from smoking. Those of us who have tried our hand at encouraging smokers to quit know that the task will not be accomplished by government programs. It will only occur when the smoker decides to become a non-smoker.

What the proposed tobacco tax really is is just another tax. It is intended to tug at American heartstrings because of the insinuation that it will improve the country`s health. It will not. It will become subject to Congressional boondoggling and be spent on trifling pork-barrel projects to promote re-election of incumbent politicians. I`m agin` it!

The strategy of painting tax increases in emotionally heart-tugging terms is not a new tactic. Years ago we were blessed with the luxury tax on expensive automobiles, furs, etc. This little fund raiser was designed to be popular with the working stiffs who did not own, or contemplate owning, expensive automobiles, furs, etc. The scheme failed because of the tremendous number of workers who were displaced when demand for these luxury items fell drastically. The short-sighted, ivory tower liberals dealt an economic blow to the very constituency they were trying to romance.

Now that smoking has become politically incorrect, the regiment of pointy-headed do-gooders is on the march again, in step with the ever-anxious-to-tax politicians. Just like their prohibitionist predecessors, they are out to legislate morality and protect Americans from themselves to validate their own worthwhileness.

Well, if you can`t lick `em, join `em. I want to submit some ideas for even more taxes aimed at improving American culture. Perhaps I`m wrong; maybe we can tax our way to perfection.

No.1. I propose a “fat tax.” We all know that being fat is unhealthy and repugnant. It would be a small inconvenience to be weighed when we deliver our tax returns to the post office on April 15. The IRS could then assess a stratified tax based on the our weight ticket. The bigger we are, the bigger the tax.

To appropriately complicate a simple concept, tax deductions would be allowed for diet programs and participating in weight loss clinics. The tax savings would, of course, be forfeited should we regain the mass we lost. Naturally, newspaper publishers would be exempt from the tax.

I further propose a new Cabinet-level position – Secretary of Fat. This public servant could amass a bureaucratic army to spy on the eating habits of Americans. Errant junkfood sneakers could be rounded up and dealt with appropriately.

No. 2. Secondly, I propose an “ugly tax.” Some say you can`t help being ugly, but you could have stayed home. Notwithstanding this pearl of wisdom, you could not escape my ugly tax by staying home. No sir!

Everybody would be required to attach a photo to their income tax return, along with the aforementioned weight ticket. Who would judge ugliness? I have thought about that and have a suggestion.

I suggest that the photos be turned over to the National Endowment for the Arts to be judged. The taxpayers already fund this endeavor and it would be better for them to render a needed service rather than continue to promote pictures involving lewd and indecent acts committed with a crucifix.

As with the fat tax, deductions would be allowed for beauty treatments, ointments and such. A weighted composite ugly score would be computed for joint returns. And of course, newspaper publishers would be exempt.

I hope these suggestions fall on fertile ground. As a fringe benefit, I don`t think folks would spend as much time complaining about how high their fat and ugly tax was as compared to the constant grousing we here about income taxes. In the coming weeks, I`ll be thinking of other taxes that could benefit America and improve our appearance at the same time. Already I am humming the refrain to “America the Beautiful.”

Thought for the Moment

I refuse to admit that I`m more than 52 even if that does make my sons illegitimate.

– Lady Astor

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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