Picking up today's paper, I read that film director Kevin Smith was ejected from a Southwest Airlines flight because he was too fat to fit in his seat. Smith claims he had no trouble fitting in the seat--"I could buckle that seat belt"--and is now in a rage against the airline.
A few years back another overweight flier tried to sue an airline for making her buy an extra seat to accommodate her flab. The airline, she said, was discriminating against her because of her body shape.
All this raises the question: Should fatties have to buy an extra seat to fly?
My answer is simple: First, hell yes! And second, you ain't seen nothing yet.
In the same paper with the news bit on Smith was an editorial about the problems we Americans now face with our gargantuan budget deficit. Because of our unpaid-for two wars in the Middle East, and what with the government stimulus package and painful Wall Street bailout, we now face years of deficits in the trillions of dollars. How will we ever cover such huge expenses? I think, for a helping hand, we should look to huge Americans.
What I am proposing is very straightforward, a novel way of reforming the tax code. Until now, an individual's tax bracket was determined based on income. Starting next year, we should add a new and more effective criterion. We should determine a person's tax bracket based on his or her weight.
The fact is that we as a nation are way overweight. And we are now also deeply in debt. This is bad for our health and bad for our economic future. Take a stroll round the local shopping mall and you'll realize the merit of my plan. Hundreds of billions of dollars could be raised if we started taxing all those sagging bellies and elephantine hips. It's time all those man boobs cost a little. At least as much as breast implants.
My proposed tax would presumably be a hit with the couple now in the White House. Our president now faces more criticism for his ballooning budgets than for anything else on his agenda. And our First Lady has undertaken to fight obesity. Hmm. Isn't it true that a fat tax would be a way to solve both these problems at once? What's more, I think Michelle Obama would support my proposal even though, based on what I've seen, it may knock her into a higher bracket.
The fact is that if seriously overweight Americans were required to pay seriously higher taxes they might finally decide to get off those tens of millions of sofas and shake their booties a bit.
The question arises as to how this proposed tax reform would be implemented and enforced. How, in short, would we go about the business of assessing a given citizen's tax burden? I already have ideas on this.
You know how on highways you'll occasionally see signs that read "Weigh Station Ahead"? Those signs are for semi trucks of course. I suggest we open similar Weigh Stations for tax assessment purposes. (Though I do think there are people who may finally have to use the semi-truck weigh stations, given the poundage at issue.)
We could open up Weigh Stations in every town, and each year before tax day citizens would have to come in with their IDs and get weighed. First, the assessor on duty would measure the person's height, then the person would be required to walk over a long series of weight-sensitive tiles. I picture it like walking down a hallway, but in this case each section of the hallway is calibrated to buzz at a certain weight, the poundage decreasing as one walks.
And so, stepping off the yellow starting line, you step onto the first large tile. That first tile will only buzz if over 350 pounds is placed on it. So far so good. It didn't buzz. But the tile after that buzzes at 330 pounds, and the one after that at 310 pounds, and so on down to the lightest weight.
The further you make it down the hallway without setting off the red buzzer light, the lower your tax bracket and the less you'll have to pay. If however you set off one of those first few tiles-- Well, brother, looks like you'll be covering a hefty chunk of our national debt this year. Needless to say, you'll be encouraged to lower your tax bracket next time around.
I know the fast food and soft drink lobbies will fight tooth and nail to defeat my proposed reform. Nonetheless I'm looking to some of our thinner members of Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, to sponsor it. And like I say, I believe Obama will be behind it, so there's little chance of it getting vetoed.
In any case it is time Americans stopped whining about fiscal difficulties and started putting their money where their mouth is. Instead of stuffing that mouth with thick-crust pizzas and bag after bag of "diet cookies."
With a new fat tax, America's health care burden will shrink as obese folks realize they're paying too much to Uncle Sam and decide to cut calories. Admittedly there will probably be cases of citizens who try to perform lipposuction in their kitchens or who desperately amputate limbs in a last-ditch effort to lose poundage before Weigh Day. But such cases should be few and far between, and can be considered unfortunate casualties in what is a necessary policy of national austerity.
As for myself, my bracket will not be the lowest, that's for sure. I have a small belly problem, and I won't make it to the end of that hallway. But I'm willing to do my part for America. I'm willing to pay a little extra. And you? If you are not one of those shameless slobs we see lumbering through food courts, ice cream cone in hand, all across this Great Big Nation, you have every reason to give your support to this new proposed fat tax. Write your representatives today.