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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Tax Anyone Whose Picture Appears In "People"

P.J O'Rourke has come up with a brilliant revenue producer that all free market, Laffer-curve libertarian-Republican/Republican libertarian/Austrian economists can agree on. He suggests a celebrity tax or what can be called a "ValueSubtracted Tax". It would be a tax on all celebrities starting with Oprah. He suggests it start at a low end base rate of 100% and be made progressive to get Democrats on board.

Says P.J.:

A... problem with an excise on infamy is the possible economic effect. The media and entertainment industry is an important factor in America's GDP. Our best economists tell us that increasing the taxes on any enterprise decreases the enterprise's productivity. But in this case--and this case only--I'll argue against Milton Friedman.

The fallacy of accepted economic theory that taxes destroy the incentive to produce is that there can never be a scarcity of celebrities in America. The incentive to become one exceeds the destructive effect of the tax. Every cab driver, school teacher, insurance executive, Boca retiree, and everyone else not mentioned wants to be a celebrity. My dog has told me she'd like to be on Fear Factor (and she'd win any of those eating contests paws down). There is no downside to this proposal. If it does destroy the entertainment industry, who cares?

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