The fatman chronicles--all hope renounce, ye lost, who enter here

"If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules."--Patterico's Pledge

Friday, December 16, 2005

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

So I was listening to KDKA (AM 1020) in the 'burgh, trying to get a weather report ahead of yesterday's snow storm, and I happened to tune in near the beginning of Fred Honsberger's show.

Fred's a conservative, as am I. But he's also a smug, arrogant, self-satisfied...jerk. I almost never listen to him and usually end up regretting it when I do. But this time was different. This time, he actually said something that made sense.

Now property tax relief is a hot-button issue here in PA, and probably around the country. What Fred suggested was this: let's tax porn.

Now those who know me well will undoubtedly be surprised to hear me endorse this idea (don't bother asking why; I ain't talkin'). But aside from state sales taxes (if you buy it at a porn shop and a few on-line purveyors) and of course personal and corporate income taxes, the porn industry doesn't really pay taxes on its sales the way companies that sell, say, gasoline or cigarettes or alcoholic beverages do. So why not?

In fact, the only problem I had with the idea was that Honsberger didn't take it far enough. He proposed a twenty-five percent federal tax on porn sales which, according to Fred, amount to twelve billion dollars a year. That would bring in three billion a year, which the porn makers would simply pass on to the consumer. And of course the states could enact their own taxes as well. That's chicken feed. We need to go further. We need to legalize prostitution, gambling and most forms of recreational drugs as well, and tax them!

Think about it for a minute. We're already halfway there with gambling. Nearly every state has a lottery and lots of states allow horse racing, dog racing and off-track-betting. How difficult would it be to go the whole hog and legalize sports betting, full fledged casinos (instead of the slots parlors PA is legalizing) or anything else people might want to bet on? Why let Nevada and Atlantic City monopolize the market?

As for prostitution, the only difference between taking a woman (or a man, for that matter) out to dinner, buying them expensive gifts, taking them to movies, etc. and instead just handing them the money to do with as they please is that you cut out the middleman (or woman, as the case may be).

Now don't misunderstand me; I'm not equating what I've just described with trying to establish a long-term relationship. That's something entirely different. But how many of you have gone out with someone that you just knew wasn't Ms. (or Mr.) Right, but was Ms. (or Mr.; ain't political correctness a hoot?) Right now?

The most controversial proposal (and one I didn't get to talk about with Honsberger; the twit hung up on me) is drug legalization. Yes, I know what it's like to live with someone who abuses drugs or alcohol (both of my grandfathers and all three of my brothers) and I'm here to tell you that the fact that drugs are illegal didn't stop them, or even slow them down. All drug Prohibition does is make a pile of money for a lot of Black, Hispanic and Asian gang-bangers. Just as alcohol Prohibition made a lot of money for a lot of Italian, Jewish and Irish mobsters. Proof, I guess, that you can be a scumbag no matter what your religious, racial or ethnic background.

Now I'm not saying let's legalize all drugs. Hallucinogenics like LSD, PCP, methamphetamine and the like are too dangerous. And the date rape drugs (GHB, Rohypnol, Ketamine) serve no useful purpose except to facilitate sexual assault. But marijuana, hashish, even heroin and cocaine (including crack)? Go for it. If someone wants to destroy their brains and bodies with that garbage, then who are we to say they can't? Hopefully, they'll be too busy getting stoned to procreate, which has got to be good for the gene pool.

Full disclosure: While I did occasionally drink before I was twenty-one, I've never had a drinking "problem". I didn't like getting drunk because I usually ended up saying or doing something stupid. After one such episode over the July 4th weekend in 1986, I said "to hell with this" and quit. I haven't had a drink since. And I've never even tried recreational drugs. Not so much as a hit off of a joint. As for pharmaceuticals, most of the "good stuff" like Vicodan, Percodin, morphine and Dilaudid (all of which I've used after various surgeries) either raised my blood pressure to unacceptable levels or made me toss my cookies. So I'm not interested in legalizing this crap for my own use.

I'm not going to pretend to know how much money in taxes we'd bring in under my plan. It would, I suspect, run into the billions. Maybe tens of billions. More importantly, it would give us control over these so-called "victim-less crimes" that we just don't have now. It would also save us the cost of trying to enforce unenforcable laws and running these losers through the criminal justice system. And if you don't believe that, just ask yourself this: which worked better, the Prohibition of alcohol, or the legalization and regulation of alcohol?