Pale People

I was driving yesterday and NPR did a story on a small town in western Illinois that, although hard hit by the recession, was slowly starting to bounce back now that the town’s steel mill had reopened. The issue was that FEMA is updating its flood-hazard maps across the U.S. and this town is now considered to be in a “flood hazard area”, which requires residents and businesses to purchase mandatory flood insurance. The story focused on businessmen who said that bankruptcies would soar if they had to buy flood insurance, despite the fact they haven’t had a flood in decades. I don’t buy the “soaring bankruptcies” bit — people always scream “we’re going to die!” when a new fee comes their way, but only a slight few are affected. That doesn’t diminish the point, however, that people are still forced to buy something on some random day they never were required to before and that does add strain.

Right after that, NPR did another story on a small town of a couple thousand in Texas that legalized alcohol sales and now the town has new stores, new industries and population decline has slowed.

Funny how such little government interaction, in either situation, can make a difference.

This got me thinking about the 10% tax on tanning salon services thanks to the healthcare bill. I call it the pale-people’s tax. Evidently, the argument is that having the tax will decrease the “unwanted” behavior. If that’s the case, why doesn’t the government just pass a law that says “no tanning”? Or, pass a million dollar tax on tanning services and be all passive about it and still achieve the same thing.

The reason is because taxes are only passed on things that ¬†are “undefendable”. Gambling, alcohol, cigarettes, tanning and likely soda and salt pretty soon. We could never pass a tax on books ¬†because too many people would be pissed.

The sad thing is that these taxes only hurt poor people who are more likely to use these kinds of products. You can call them uninformed people (wink wink, nudge nudge), if you want. Wealthy people don’t care about a few extra bucks on their tan. Poor people are the ones paying the added extortion money for something the government has deemed “unhealthy”.

Clearly, I fall on the side of letting people burn up to a crisp on their own dime and time if they want. I just wish the government would admit they’re only taxing these “bad” things for the extra money. At least we haven’t become so nannied that they are just coming out to say “No tanning! No salt! No fats! No soda!”

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