Okay, so there are lots of problems with the “Goldman Tax” that President Obama wants to enact. Goldman Sachs and the other big banks that would pay this new levy—officially called the Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee—will probably just pass the $90 billion cost onto consumers. It might be hard to police loopholes and exemptions. It could put rapacious American banks a step behind the rapacious foreign banks they compete with. And it might disrupt all that bank capital that’s been gushing into the real economy, helping it heal so rapidly.
But those aren’t reasons to kill the tax. They’re reasons to have MORE revenue-raisers like the Goldman Tax. The government is desperate for money, after all, and taxpayers are going to cough it up one way or the other, no matter where the tax starts. So here are some other “responsibility fees” that would bring in needed funds while encouraging Americans to behave better:
The double-secret-derivative tax. A surcharge on whatever securities Wall Street dreams up to replace CDOs, CLOs, CSOs, SFCDOs, CDO-squareds, CDO-cubeds, and commercial-real-estate CDOs. Since it will take the government 10 years to figure out what these are, this tax would be retroactive with no statute of limitations.
The Ayn Rand Tax. Assessed on any government regulator who believes that investors will refrain from taking catastrophic risks because they know how to look out for themselves. A special Greenspan Clause would quintuple the penalty for a regulator who happens to be Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
The AIG Tax. A surcharge on the 20 big companies that exhibit the most self-destructive behavior every year. If they can’t pay in cash, each company would remunerate taxpayers in kind: AIG, for example, would offer every American a credit-default swap insuring them against the consequences of whatever risky behavior they chose. If Microsoft ever sold a system as bad as Vista again, it would give every American a Zune. For the tomfoolery over Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, NBC would give viewers a break by going dark during prime time.
The Kanye West Tax. Ante up every time you act like an ass. If it’s on TV, multiply the baseline fee by the number of people who view the act of stupidity, including YouTube and Hulu replays.
The OctoBox Tax. Any TV network that holds a panel discussion with more than four participants would have to pay a per-pundit dickering fee.
The Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee Double-Indemnity Tax. Doubles the Goldman Tax on any bank whose assets are equal to 100 percent of its assets. Why not.
The Tiger Woods Tax. Imposed on celebrities who exhibit extraordinary carnal hubris. $1 million per bimbo.
[See why Tiger Woods will come roaring back.]
The Jesus Tax. Also known as the Lloyd Blankfein Apotheosis Tax. To be paid by any individual who says he’s acting on God’s behalf but can’t prove it. Includes the Pope’s U.S. representatives.
The Overexposure Tax. To be paid by any president who shows up on TV more than five times per week. Doubled for every published picture of him playing basketball or frolicking on the beach during vacation.
The Coyness Tax. Sarah Palin pays $10,000 per day until she declares whether she’s running for office in 2012.
The Big Pharma tax. Haha, just kidding, we’d never tax you guys.
The Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee Quadruple-Indemnity Tax. Imposed on any bank that has either positive net earnings or negative net earnings in a given year. Heh-heh. We'll never have a chance to do this again.
The Twitter Tax. Suffer from Nothing-Interesting-To-Say Disease? Here’s the cure: A $1 tax on every pointless Tweet. The government will be back in the black in no time.