Whenever I hear pols talking about making the wealthy "pay their fair share" or complaining about "tax cuts for the wealthy," even I, a free-market, low-tax kind of gal, can't help feeling a visceral urge to grab a pitchfork and rush for the gates, hoping to bring those greedy, caviar-eating, Rolls-driving, champagne-drinking fat cats to their knees.
Forget about taxing them more. How about forced labor in carnival dunking booths? Mmm...I'm feeling it.
But that's because we all have images of wealthy people we don't like, people we believe don't deserve their riches. Company CEOs who ran their businesses into the ground while floating to safety with platinum parachutes. Athletes who used steroids to pump their way to victory. Heiresses who wear a lot of pink and carry small dogs around with them. Charlie Sheen.
The problem with trying to make these folks pay more, of course, has been pointed out on this blog before. When you go after the undeserving, you often catch a lot of "deserving" folks in the net, too.
So I've come up with a new tax plan. Let’s hike taxes on every wealthy person whom we find, oh, say, irritating. Irritating wealthy people are certainly undeserving. I would dub this tax program the New Income Tax for the Wealthy, Irritating and Troubling (NITWIT, for short).
I would like to start by suggesting new taxes on Porsche owners. One of them nearly dinged my family’s old Buick when we were parking in front of our favorite local Chinese restaurant not too long ago. I don’t know about you, but Buick-denting, safety-hating Porsche owners certainly don’t deserve to keep more of their money, in my book.
Also on the NITWIT list -- those who agree with the “no tax cuts for the wealthy” program, yet who never give any more of their income to the running of government than is currently required by law. Let’s call this the NITWIT-WTT addendum (for “Walk the Talk”).
Nothing’s stopping you, Mark Zuckerberg, from forking over a little extra cash to Uncle Sam all on your own. But if you don’t, under this new plan, you automatically get to pay the taxes advocated by the politician with whom you are standing, figuratively or literally.
Moving along, further down the list in the NITWIT group, are Entertainers Who Annoy Us (EWAU).
Those whose last name, perhaps, is Sheen, and whose first name, perhaps, is Charlie. (Last Charlie Sheen joke. I promise.)
But others can quickly fill up this EWAU list, especially if they happen to fall into the WTT group, as well. In fact, a NITWIT-WTT-EWAU taxee is eligible for a special status --they would qualify for 100 percent taxation on any memoir or tell-all films or media appearances, plus 90 percent of, oh, what the heck, everything else.
They would also have to prepare their taxes themselves under the NITWIT-EWAU-WTT plan and would have to deliver their taxes in person to Washington, DC, paying a special carbon usage tax for every mile from their home (presumably in California) to the capital.
Oh, and they’d have to pay their taxes in…gold coins purchased from a sponsor of the Glen Beck radio show.
This leads us to the HPH -- the High Profile Hypocrite -- category of NITWIT taxees. Onto this list is anyone espousing “green” policies but who does not live in a two-bedroom 900 square-foot house and use only 12 rolls of toilet paper a year.
There would be an additional tax on this group if over 90 percent of their food budget goes to purchasing organic items at stores whose names rhyme with Schmole Schmoods. They must provide grocery store receipts with their extended tax form, something they surely won’t mind since it will create more government jobs (at the IRS).
Their taxes need not be delivered in person--they are, after all, environmentally conscious--but would have to be carried by horses or other non-fossil-fuel-using contrivances to the IRS. In Washington. And the taxes would have to be in the form of…lumps of coal.
Also on the NITWIT list would be any of the housewives from the following shows: Real Housewives of Orange County, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Real Housewives of Miami, and Real Housewives of New York (these women would qualify for extra-high taxes because of how extra obnoxious they are; yeah, I mean you, Ramona. And Sonja. And Alex.). I'm leaving off the ladies of the Atlanta show because I'm not convinced they have that much money to begin with. And the New Jersey Real Housewives -- well, let's just say, they're a big Italian family (not that there's anything wrong with that), and I'd rather not cross them.
The list of NITWITS could go on for pages. But by now, I’m sure readers get the point. Tax policy should aim to be fair and effective, not punishing. In 2009, when the president signed the stimulus bill, he obviously didn’t think corporate jet owners were undeserving. The bill contained a reauthorization of their tax cut, designed to effect expansion of that industry.
So, while we can all think of people on whom we’d love to smack the NITWIT label, wouldn’t it be better to discuss tax policy reasonably and rationally, without ginning up class hatred?