In an effort to beat back that scary $2.4-billion deficit, our state lawmakers went to work this week looking for solutions.
Though they wimped out thus far on some no-brainers — like upping the cigarette tax closer to what's paid in other states to put us with the rest of the pack, so to speak — they did decide to boost traffic fines. To which I say, good. Charging more for bad acts like gunning it through a red light or speeding across the Howard Frankland, that kind of driving being a personal choice and one that could harm other people, is okay by me.
So in the spirt of assessing fees for bad behavior, a few suggestions I really wish we could pull off.
Let's start with a Wool Over Our Eyes Tax, which could be alternately known as the Our Mamas Didn't Raise No Fools Fee. This would be assessed every time it comes to light that an elected official has done something mind-bogglingly questionable, like, say, funneling millions of dollars to a college that just by happenstance gives him a fat six-figure job.
This could also be called the Who, Moi? Assessment, since that tends to be the aforementioned politicians' reaction when the news gets out.
I'd also vote for a related Sheep Tax. This we charge politicians when they turn into a bleating, blatting herd, evidenced by acts such as colleagues in the Florida House giving the aforementioned politician a standing ovation — a standing ovation! — after he quit that big-bucks job in the face of criticism that's only going to get hotter.
Okay, let's see, how about a Storms Tax, which could also be called the No, Separation of Church And State Is Not Like a Condiment You Can Opt to Leave off Your Burger Fee. Watch for violations any time politicians like state Sen. Ronda Storms start talking about any of the following:
Public libraries, abortion, school science classes, school clubs, sex education, gay rights, sock puppets, and what children should and should not be permitted to draw in chalk on the sidewalks of our great state.
We also need a Bad Form Tax for exiting politicians booted out of office by voters but refusing to go quietly, instead making a nasty backhanded comment about the victor (a la Brian Blair) or handing over financial records akin to torn cash register receipts (Buddy Johnson). While these acts are not without entertainment value, they should be penalized.
Let's have a Floridians Against Sanctimony Tax for people like Senate budget chairman J.D. Alexander, who sounded doubtful about continuing a conservation land-buying program when law enforcement officers have gone without raises. Because, sure, it's one or the other, right?
And, finally, let's consider a Bad Behavior in General Fee, $100 per act for, but not limited to:
Surly teenagers who "work" in "customer service," shoppers who park carts across grocery store aisles, drivers who do not give the Little Wave when you let them merge, drivers who cannot find their blinkers, dog owners who do not scoop, elevator riders who let the doors close in your face, telemarketers, double-dippers, over-cologners, under-tippers, and anyone who acts like a jerk in general.
I'm telling you, we could make that deficit disappear.