Time for political vice tax

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The Article

Ideally the taxes we pay are supposed to serve some noble purpose.

In the olden days this noble purpose was to ensure the king was strong enough to pillage neighbouring lands. Today, our taxes serve a much more civilized function: to ensure democratically elected governments are strong enough to pillage us.

Taxes have also come to serve another supposedly noble purpose. Politicians routinely use them to induce citizens to act in a more government-approved manner.

Governments, for instance, tax tobacco to stop us from smoking, tax alcohol to stop us from over drinking and tax income to stop us from making too much money. Economists call taxes designed to alter our behaviour “vice taxes.”

And we can expect more of them in the future.

In fact, there is lots of talk these days about imposing a “fat tax” on unhealthy foods to force us to eat better (I might starve to death) and a carbon tax on gasoline to force us to go bankrupt driving our cars. Yet there is one source of vice that has gone untaxed—political vice.

Wouldn’t it be a great idea to impose vice taxes on our politicians to ensure they act in a more voter-approved manner?

Here are some ideas:

– Lying Tax
Every time a politician breaks a campaign promise he or she would be forced to pay a special levy. (This alone would probably generate enough revenue to eliminate the national debt in about two weeks.)

– Too Much Luxury Tax
Politicians who go on “fact-finding missions” that are held in holiday resorts should definitely pay a luxury tax. The amount of the tax would be based on the temperature difference between Canada and whatever destination they were visiting—the bigger the gap the higher the tax.

– Act Your Age Tax
Politicians should get dinged in the pocketbook every time they act like spoiled children in the House of Commons. Unparliamentary behaviour such as name-calling, heckling, throwing paper airplanes and falsely accusing a fellow member of Parliament of watching porn on his laptop, would all be taxed to the hilt.

– Oh Woe is Me Tax
Whenever a member of Parliament whines about how he or she is underpaid and overworked, he or she would pay a special fine which would reduce his or her pay until it equalled the average income of his or her constituents.

– Saying Something Stupid Tax
This tax would be slapped on any politician who was guilty of saying something egregiously stupid; the more stupid the comment, the higher the tax. For instance, the tax Green Party Leader Elizabeth May would have to pay for comparing Canadian troops in Afghanistan to “Christian Crusaders” would be so high she would probably have to sell her windmill-powered car.

– Dopey Ideas Tax
Leaders of political parties who continually promote outdated economic ideas that will never work in the real world should also be forced to pay a financial penalty just to compensate for wasting the electorate’s time.

This could also be called “The Jack Layton Tax.”

Of course, I can’t guarantee these taxes would be good for the economy, but they sure would be good for my soul.

Gerry Nicholls
Latest posts by Gerry Nicholls (see all)

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