May 23, 2012

Don't look now, but the government is trying to outlaw donuts! I have a good friend in California and he has informed me that lawmakers in California, which already prohibits public smoking, are now considering proposals to ban grocery stores from selling products, like cookies and donuts, that contain trans fats. Another proposal would ban trans fats at restaurants statewide.

But many restaurant owners are incensed at the idea of the state telling them what ingredients they're allowed to use in their recipes. "It's a slippery slope because what's next? Butter? Bacon? Lard?" said California Restaurant Association President Jot Condie.

Maybe passing laws that try to force people to eat extra virgin olive oil instead of extra greasy fried eggs is the wrong approach. Most Americans believe in freedom of choice, whether that choice is trying to live to be 100 by spending five hours a day on a treadmill, or trying to obliterate all memories of your miserable treadmill-like job each night by chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes and knocking back shots of Jack Daniels.

Forcing us to eat what is good for us never worked too well for Mom, and it's even less likely to work for the California Bureau of Fats, Lipids, and Pie Crusts. Instead, I suggest that if the government really wants Americans to change their behavior, they should introduce the Transfathead Tax. Stop taxing things that are good for you, like earning a paycheck, and start making super-sized consumers pay more taxes on all the things that are bad for you, and the rest of the planet.

So you want another double bacon cheeseburger, onion rings, and creamy cow-substance shake? Go ahead, that'll be $4.99 plus a Transfathead Tax of $27.95 to cover the increased burdens on society to eventually pay for your diabetes medicine and quadruple bypass surgery, not to mention the environmental degradation caused by industrial farming, feedlot wastes, the destruction of tropical rain forests, and the additional gasoline you'll need to haul your fat butt around in an SUV, because you can't fit in a normal car seat.

A Transfathead Tax could also be collected on other detrimental and self-destructive behaviors. For example, if you don't want to put your fat head inside a helmet while you're motorcycling home from the bar, you shouldn't have to. Just fork over the annual $17,987 fee to help cover costs when the State eventually needs to spoon-feed you oatmeal and applesauce in the Easy Rider long-term care facility for Macho Morons.

Governments have already found how successfully bad behavior can contribute to the bottom line with taxes on tobacco and alcohol, along with state lotteries, the ultimate tax on people who flunked math. ("Let's see, my odds of winning are 100 million to one, that means I'll be the one to win 100 million!") But the problem with these taxes is that they fall disproportionately on the working poor. Instead, if we tax bad behaviors so much that only rich people can afford them, then only rich people will pay taxes. For example, in Denmark, the tax to own a car is almost as much as the car costs. The more expensive the car, the more expensive the tax. Because they can't afford this, almost nobody below the age of 35 owns a car, they get around on bikes. So there's less traffic, less pollution, and better health for everyone, especially all those bike-riders.

In the U.S. we could do the same thing by charging huge cars and mansions the transfathead tax. If your head is so swollen that you think you need 15 rooms and a swimming pool for you and your hunting dogs, along with four Maseratis to show off your driving ability, then you can certainly afford to pay society for the privilege of squandering our shared resources.

And can anyone logically explain to me why our governments don't tax the biggest cash crop in the country? The annual market value of American-raised marijuana is over $35 billion, far more than any of the three leading agri-business crops: corn, soybeans, or hay. Anyone who can afford to pay over $200 an ounce to get high can certainly afford to chip in the few extra bucks it'll take to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, to keep out all that cheap, low-class Columbian, Panamanian, and Mexican weed, and help protect the jobs of some of the only successful family farmers we have left in America: dope growers.

I know growing marijuana is illegal and I agree with that. But the government has taxed illegal activities for a long time (i.e. Al Capone) so why not marijuana? Surely enough users are caught to make the tax feasible and cost effective.

Perhaps governments should also have to pay a Transfathead Tax. If you want to buy bombs and invade other countries you should have to pay a tax to the United Nations that will cover the cost of rebuilding all the houses and businesses that the bombs are going to destroy, in addition to the long term medical care of all the innocent people who get caught in your crossfire. Maybe if the true cost of each gun, bullet and bomb had to be paid for up-front, no government could ever afford to buy them.

Alas, the Transfathead Tax is probably just a pipe dream. Knowing how government usually works, the best thing you can probably do right now is to go out to your local donut shop, and buy a dozen chocolate glazed. Maybe even get an extra dozen to stash in the freezer. Because, when donuts are outlawed, only outlaws will have donuts.