To Balance the Budget: Tax Sex Appeal

To Balance the Budget: Tax Sex Appeal

Sometimes it is said all philosophy is a footnote to Plato. Perhaps it should also be said that all political satire is a footnote to the Irish clergyman Jonathan Swift. In his many works, Swift unmercifully challenges the status quo with unsurpassed wit and humor. Though they have just as much raw material, modern political writers hardly come close.

In 1726 Swift published Gulliver's Travels. We all have heard about Gulliver travelling among little people (Lilliputians) and giants (Brobdingnagians). But less well known is Swift's idea on how to raise government revenue. In Chapter 6 of Book 3 he suggests that we tax individuals on their sex appeal and good looks, not according to some unbiased opinion of judges or experts, but according to their own subjective assessment of those qualities.

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