When they completed their health bill last year, Senate Democrats searched high and low for new taxes to pay for the legislation. One idea, a tax on cosmetic surgery dubbed the Botax, was scotched by lobbying by the American Medical Association. Instead, lawmakers turned to the indoor tanning industry.
Tanning salons, caught flat-footed, got burned. They’re now on tap to feed $2.7 billion to the federal government over the next decade, kicking off Thursday with what will be the first tax in the health-care law to take effect.
Here’s a little history lesson in governmental control methodology. Back in the year 1920, there was an amendment to the constitution banning alcohol in the United states. After much hassle, the error of this was seen and the amendment was repealed in 1933.
The problem with outright banning something is that it breaks down the illusion of non control. It says “We don’t want you to do this, and we’re telling you that you can’t.” The population doesn’t like this one bit. Thankfully, the system has gotten good at convincing us to voluntarily “give up” these things that are undesirable.
Take smoking for example. We’ve learned from prohibition that you can’t outright ban it. So we have to work with other methods. First step is to make it undesirable. Campaigns to push the diseases that it could cause. Campaigns to make the visual of smoking unattractive. This will work on the vain and the health conscious. but you still have to get the rest of the normal folks. The easiest way is through the pocket book. Tax the companies. Tax the sales. Force the companies to pay for ad campaigns and awareness literature. This means they foot the bill for the previously mentioned campaigns, which is a bonus.
Now you’ve made it both unattractive and unaffordable. Not enough? Now that you have the support of most people, you start pushing partial bans. Not in restaurants, not in bars, not at the workplace. Now you can only smoke in your own home. Now you can only do it at certain times of the day.
In the end, you’ve crushed enough of the opposition that your outright ban will easily pass through.
So what about other issues? Maybe you’ve got an idea of what it means to be healthy. Tanning can cause Skin Cancer. We’ve done the education part, now we move on to taxing it. All in the name of the new Healthcare reform.
But what’s next? Too much salt isn’t good for you. Greasy fast food? That makes people obese (Appeal to Unattractive Stigma) and it can cause heart problems (Appeal to Health).
Maybe we should try that Alcohol thing again? Liver damage? Drunk Drivers?
How about going the other way, shouldn’t we all get our 4-5 servings of vegetables every day?
This is of course good for people. Not to mention that if the government is footing the bill for some of the healthcare costs associated with these “problems” it’s in the best interest of the people to help stop these problems at the root!
So hey, this tanning bed issue may not be something you care about if you’re not a person who tans, I certainly am not, but you should care. Something you enjoy could be next on the hit list.
But hey, it’s not like Tanning has been banned right? I mean you can still go out and tan all you’d like, it just may cost you a bit more. Sort of like Smoking. Or maybe in the future those Big Macs and Ho-Hos.