There’s only one demand in society powerful enough to bear the huge tax needed to cover government debt. People, look to yourselvesby James Hawes / June 22, 2010 / Leave a comment
As the coalition struggles to span the abyss of governmental borrowing, I would like to propose a new tax to fulfil the long-established criteria of a just and desirable imposition on a particular item. Those criteria are: that the tax should not impinge on the ability of the most vulnerable to maintain health (ie, the item must be purely discretionary); that the item should be widely enough desired for the tax not to result in its disappearance; that the tax should be easy to collect and hard to evade; and that—as with 4×4 tankettes in the current vehicle-excise model—the restriction in the item’s ownership to the carelessly rich or the hopelessly enamoured should tend to the moral improvement of the nation.
On what, then, will our splendid new tax be raised? On an item lost in the dark ages and available only to the wealthiest until Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the father of French economic dirigisme, obtained the secret in the 17th century. On an item excoriated through the ages as the agent and evidence of vice (by everyone except Socrates, but look what happened to him).
Well? Surely the answer is clear. As our forefathers taxed private windows, so should we tax private mirrors.
New mirrors will be assayed at the point of manufacture and acid-etched if for public use, with swingeing penalties for falsification. Since glass is both very heavy and tremendously fragile, smuggling will be hard to the point of uneconomic. Existing domestic mirrors will be self-assessed and liable for spot-checks through unannounced visits from customs and excise, with fixed penalties for evasion set (as with television licensing) at a deterrent rather than a proportionate level. A zero-rated category will include all mirrors up to 75 square cm. This will cover not only all health-and-safety equipment necessary to dental hygiene, rear-viewing, under-car bomb checking and so on, but also reasonable items such as make-up and shaving mirrors.
The moral component here, I trust, is clear. There is a valid argument for the use of small mirrors enabling such swift and sociable checks on the state of hair and teeth as are conducive to general satisfaction—but who needs to see themselves full-face, never mind full-length? Above the exempted area, therefore, the tax will be not merely progressive but geometric. If the rating on a domestic mirror of 100 sq cm is M, the rating on a mirror of 200 sq…