country in the world the word "tax" likely stirs up some feeling
of anger or regret. A tax means less money to spend on things
you like. Oh sure, the services are supposedly there, but many
people, whether in a high tax country like Canada or a low tax
country like the United States, see taxes as evil, unnecessary
or both. Calls for higher taxes are usually met with outrage and
lower taxes are usually used as a carrot for the willing donkey
named "voters" when election season rolls around. Governments
can rise or fall on their tax policies.
So what if
a government managed to find a way of increasing taxes without the
attendant anger? What if they found a way to make the population
glad they were paying taxes?
have. It's called gambling.
little saying I've heard bandied about recently: Gambling is a tax
on people who can't do math. In an attempt to boost their sagging
fortunes, cities and racetracks are making heavy investments in
casino and slot machine palaces. It seems to be working rather well.
A nearby racetrack, once the best empty parking lot around for a
late night romantic rendezvous, now bustles with activity. Cars
idle impatiently before the doors open at 11:00 in the morning and
the lot is packed late into the night.
Not all the
profits from the new racetrack/slot house stay with the owners,
of course. A percentage goes to the county to cover infrastructure
bills and additional police vehicles and personnel. A substantial
amount is left over for other county projects.
the howls of protest here? People willing to shell out an extra
hundred dollars (or more) a week at the slots most likely kick up
quite a fuss when federal, provincial, gas, etc. taxes go up by
get me wrong, I think it's a fine thing that an additional tax area
has been opened up. So much the better for me that someone else
has elected to pay more than their fair share of taxes. However,
governments should wake up and realize the gambling model holds
immense potential for taxation.
it. A gambling hall run entirely by the government could easily
take in a much larger piece of the pie than simply taking a cut
of the huge takes gambling houses are already making. Governments
could easily run theme casinos (Income Tax Casino, Federal Tax Casino,
Provincial Tax Casino, etc.) that could bring in many additional
tax dollars for every area government is responsible for. Like the
idea of National Health Care? Blow your bucks at the Health Care
Casino! You'll feel better and the government will get more money.
this model already exists in the form of raffles and lotteries but
governments should push a little harder for a bigger slice of the
pie. You've got a segment of the population (plus busloads of visitors
from other countries) willing to pay more taxes. Take advantage
there is a certain element of greed at work here. If more taxes
come out of the pockets of those who can't do math, fewer tax dollars
will come out of my own in the long run. Oh well, those are the
benefits you reap when you pay attention in math class. I knew they
would be good for something.
© 2000 Stephen Van Esch All Rights Reserved
Van Esch is a writer and instructional designer living near Toronto,
Canada. He is the owner and CEO of the Text Pound (http://www.textpound.com).
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