The F.A.V.R.E. Tax: A Proposal

Good news: I've figured out how to close the budget deficit and stimulate the economy. My idea is called the Fee Assessed on Very Rampant Egos, or the F.A.V.R.E. Tax. It would apply only to those who make $16 million a year and make routine gross displays of egotism that harm the public interest and just generally annoy people. So it would apply mostly to professional athletes. Maybe just one athlete.

The F.A.V.R.E. Tax has many attractive fiscal benefits. Like other sin taxes, it could be raised in times of recession with little objection. In addition to providing revenue, it will serve as a check on behavior that coarsens our society and makes children sad. (The idea polls highest in Wisconsin, BTW.) I mentioned the stimulative benefits. You may not know this, but when preening athletes make drawn-out decisions about whether or not to retire--even when the whole world knows they won't because, like a spoiled toddler, they simply can't bear not being the center of attention, not even for a minute--it creates serious economic disruptions. Like alcoholism and online pornography, this phenomenon causes thousands of lost man hours as workers surf the net, lemming-like, looking for updates. Also, entire multibillion-dollar cable networks interrupt their programming and grind to a halt, which particularly affects the economies of New England states. Were I to ask Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi about it, he would probably say, "We find that the effects on real GDP, jobs, and inflation are huge and that this behavior causes severe economic headwinds." He would probably add, "A F.A.V.R.E. Tax would get our economy moving again, avert Great Depression 2.0, and finally bring the budget into balance."

And if that's not enough, we can start taxing interceptions.

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Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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