Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let's profit from our own nitwitedness and lunacy

Congress is always creating new fees, new taxes, lying about both, disagreeing on whether a tax hurts the poor or, god help us, arguing about whether a tax makes the rich slightly less wealthy. Thus, we have the proverbial logjam, and ensuing debt, a growing deficit, and various collateral financial damages. Is there any wonder why you can't get two Nobel economists to agree on how to fix the fiscal crisis? I think I have the answer, and it is readily adaptable to the European Union nations. (Are you listening Greece, Italy, and Spain?)

It took a long series of inner monologues, but here is my epiphany.

We create the GST, or "Graduated Stupid Tax." It will be a two-tier levy, the first based on stupid talk, the second on stupid actions. Stupid actions will be taxed at a higher rate than stupid talk, of course. But the graduated part of the tax is directly related to the stupid person's net worth. Thus, if Mark Zuckerberg or Donald Trump says or does something stupid, they are taxed at a higher rate than an ordinary citizen -- namely, you or me -- would be. So, for example, if Zuckerberg shows up at an important business meeting wearing a hoodie, or Trump brings up the Obama birthing issue for a third time, we would tax the bejesus out of them.

If you do or say something stupid, and you realize and cop to it right away, you get a reduction in the scheduled levy. Anyone who goes on a reality show would have to pay a pre-stupid tax. Politicians caught directly doing ridiculously puerile things would be taxed at the highest rate -- think Eliot Spitzer, Newt Gingrich, or John Edwards. Anyone who runs for President? Stupid tax. Anyone dumb enough to get elected and take the job? Special stupid surtax.

We would have to create a new federal office, probably called the "Department of Stupidity," or DOS. Okay, I can hear you cackling. We already have dozens of those! But this would be unique. We would have a bi-partisan commission of dozens of directors from all walks of life and all professions. The only prerequisite for nomination would be never holding elective office above dog catcher. I'd toss out Jay Leno as a possibility for starters, just because he ferrets out incredibly stupid utterances every week in his popular "Jaywalking" interviews. Maybe a gray hair like CBS host Charles Osgood, who always seems to be intelligent-sounding and fair-minded on Sunday mornings. George Clooney? Hugh Laurie? Keith Richards? The only two real requirements are having a low threshold for stupidity and a fairly high level of introspection and humility.

I know this is way outside of the box thinking, folks. But big problems call for bold solutions. There is no dearth of stupidity in this country; indeed around the world. Can you imagine how fast the U.S. treasury would be raking it in? We could balance the budget and erase the deficit in less than three years.