In last Sunday’s NYTimes, there was a piece titled “Should We Tax People for Being Annoying?” Without even knowing the subject matter, the answer is, obviously, a resounding, “YES!”
The article itself was about Pigovian taxes – namely, taxes levied on “the things we do that affect others and that the market is unable to price.” A good example is congestion pricing in London, in which those who choose to drive private automobiles into the city must pay a fee to do so; or very high taxes on gasoline to ameliorate not just the negative effects of its use (pollution, congestion, etc.) but also to discourage its consumption in the first place.
Clearly, I would embrace such a system of taxes (particularly given that my primary modes of transportation are bicycle and public transit, resulting in a delightfully smug sense of self-satisfaction as I judge the destroyers of the planet in their cars. Of course, the benefits of not driving a car are more than wiped out by the many airline trips I take each year – not that this diminishes my self-righteousness by one whit. But I digress…). The article, however, reveals the mere tip of the iceberg – there is a potential windfall of tax income for the government available through Pigovian taxes. Here then is a by-no-means-exhaustive list of activities that shall henceforth be taxed.
- Attempting to board a bus, train, subway, streetcar, metro, motor coach, jitney, shuttle, monorail, ferry, vaporetto, hydrofoil, elevator, funicular or other public conveyance before all alighting passengers have disembarked.
- Wearing, rather than carrying, one’s backpack on any crowded public conveyance.
- Being unduly tan.
- Attempting to strike up a conversation or make eye contact with a stranger in any public place of which the primary purpose is not the serving of alcoholic beverages.
- Stating, mentioning, implying or alluding to the fact that one wears size 28 jeans and/or a size 0 dress.
- Using two-dollar words without understanding how to pronounce them properly. For example, oxymoron pronounced as “ox cimarron.” (Yes, that actually happened.)
- Using “I” as an object instead of “me.”
- Ordering a “gin martini.”
- Reading 50 Shades of Grey.
- Walking three or more abreast on a city sidewalk.
- Walking in any city center in a manner that could be described as ambling, meandering or strolling.
- Seeing that one has 3 or fewer seconds on the walk signal, running halfway across the intersection and then sauntering the remaining distance.
- Putting more than one carry-on item in the overheard bin.
- Using terms such as “socialism,” “communism” or “fascism” without being able to accurately define them.
- Being, and therefore presumably driving like, a BMW owner.
- Being a fan of the New York Yankees.
- Wearing hats indoors unless one is a lady attending a wedding or a fancy luncheon. (N.B.: The term “lady” in this instance is not gender specific.)
- Failing to répondez s’il vous plaît.
- Honking one’s horn while sitting motionless in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
- Disliking cats.
- Complaining about how all the people who’ve moved into one’s previously undiscovered, semi-sketchy but charming and reasonably-priced neighborhood have ruined it when one has actually only lived there for a year-and-a-half and is originally from Tustin.
- Failing to respond to emails, texts or instant messages in a sufficiently timely manner. (N.B.: Timeliness shall be determined by the composer of the email, text or IM to which one is responding.)
- Leaving voicemail messages (not applicable to persons age 60 or older).