Where’s Sacramento? Who cares? You’d find better ideas for solving the budget mess on this crowded 720 bus on Wilshire Boulevard.
Pardon me, but I’m on a long ride around town trying to come up with ways to help the state budget. Here’s my list that calls on sacrifices by everyone from Arianna Huffington to annoying golfers who stifle American productivity by playing their silly game. Hold on, these taxes would also address some of the major problems, personality and otherwise, plaguing L.A. and the state.
Hypocrisy Tax: Charge every board member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority $200 every time they drive a car and fail to take a bus or train to a meeting. Revenue estimate: $500,000
Mental Health Tax: Let’s admit the psychological benefits of tobacco and open smoking rooms in all public buildings. Admission would be $5 a day or $300 for an annual pass. Revenue estimate: $1 million a year.
Rudeness Tax: Charge elected officials $1,000 every time they get distracted at a public meeting and start talking to their colleagues instead of listening to a staff report or a member of the public during the ever-dwindling time for public comment. Revenue estimate: $35 million, with half of that paid by chatty L.A. City Council members.
Newspaper Burial Tax: One cause of the decline of newspapers in America today is Arianna Huffington, the Brentwood online publisher who steals much of her content by telling writers she helps their reputations instead of their pocketbooks. Now she’ll pay $2,000 for every piece she runs without compensation. Revenue estimate: $10 million.
Golfer’s Tax: Anyone with four of five hours on their hands to hit springy balls hundreds of yards around water-sucking lawns in the middle of our desert, and avoid real exercise by riding in a cart, can afford this $100-a-game fee: Revenue estimate: $30 million
Sky-is-falling Tax: Blogger and secession activist Ron Kaye must pay $1,000 a day if he ever fails to file a post that in some way pushes for felony indictments of what he likes to call the bums at City Hall who are robbing his valley residents blind. Revenue estimate: $1,000, for that day every year when he writes about the birds nesting in his yard.
Jack Weiss Lecture Series: The unloved and prickly failed candidate for city attorney shares his tips about meeting constituent needs and forging alliances during his tempestuous years on the L.A. City Council, in monthly forums in Taper Auditorium at the main public library. Admission: $25 or $100 for the annual series of five lectures. Revenue estimate: $125, assuming his family shows up.