How To Tax Everything



On several occasions in this space, I have advocated placing some kind of control on one of our nation’s and indeed the world’s largest nemeses.

I’m not talking about heroin. Or global warming. Or even terrorism.

No, I’m talking about dancing. My position on this great social ill is that dancing is an evil scheme imposed on males by females for their personal gratification.

Loyal readers of this column will remember the words that appeared in this space on April 1, 2001:

“Since we have now proven through irrefutable logic that dancing is an absolute waste of time, a ritual that has outgrown its usefulness, and a most inaccurate precursor to the sundial and other early means of marking harvests and other events, I believe the day has come to put dancing where it belongs on the scrap heap of history. I therefore propose that the Rim country take a bold step. Instead of enacting things like bed, board and booze taxes which punish behavior absolutely essential to survival, I think we should ban dancing outright.”

When no one took my suggestion seriously, no doubt because it appeared on April Fool’s Day, I followed shortly thereafter with a two-part series on the need to at least control dancing, in which I included an informal poll I conducted on dancing and other timely issues of the day.

Because poll participants were not in agreement with me regarding an outright ban of dancing, I proposed that the town institute a system of licensing, much as various types of hunting are licensed.

I even devised a licensing plan and suggested the creation of a bureaucracy to implement and enforce this new form of taxation based on a drop-box honor system similar to those used in some parking lots after hours. And I offered to share revenues from the dance tax with the town on a 50-50 basis.

When the town council did not respond, I skulked away and let the matter rest for well over a year.

But now, a new development has thrust the issue of the legality of dancing back onto the front pages of newspapers around the world. An Associated Press story related recent events in merry England where dancing is licensed and carefully controlled.

“Under British law, dancing is allowed only in pubs that have public entertainment licenses,” wrote Jane Wardell in the article. “But getting the license from local governments can be an expensive and overly bureaucratic process and, consequently, only around 5 percent of pubs, restaurants and nightclubs currently allow live entertainment and dancing.”

What triggered the article was a fine of $7,850 imposed on a British pub chain called Pitcher & Piano when undercover inspectors caught patrons engaging in “rhythmic moving” at two of its bars.

Bob Currie, director of the Westminster Council’s community protection department, believes the government has an open-and-shut case, pointing out that “the rules about what constitutes dancing are clear: It’s ‘rhythmic moving of the legs, arms and body, usually changing positions within the floor space available and whether or not accompanied by musical support.’”

Derek Andrews, a spokesperson for the offending chain, begged to differ.

“To the best of my knowledge, spontaneous dancing is not in the top 10 lists of great social ills of our time,” he said.

I disagree with Mr. Andrews. I believe spontaneous dancing is most definitely one of the top 10 scourges of our time, right up there with bark beetles, ATVs and gangsta rap music. And I further believe that in this case, we can learn a great lesson from the Mother Country.

So with a new town council in place, the time has come to make another proposal to that august body and this is it:

The town’s financial picture is looking mighty shaky, what with revenue sharing back on the state’s chopping block. I think the Brits are onto something with their ban of “rhythmic moving whether or not accompanied by musical support.”

By instituting a similar licensing system, we can enlarge the revenue net to include many activities in addition to dancing like:

  • Karaoke;
  • Cops directing traffic;
  • People clapping at rodeos and other events;
  • Joggers and sports enthusiasts of all
  • kinds;
  • Normal breathing.

Requiring a license for virtually anything that moves, combined with fining things that don’t move (as in no parking zones), just about everything in Payson would either be taxed or require a license. And isn’t that the ultimate goal of government?

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