by Jim Harris
“Welcome to Philadelphia: Can You Spare Any Change?” Signs bearing this slogan will be going up at all the major entrances to Philly just as soon as the city can come up with enough money to manufacture them. This catchy slogan beat out several others under consideration, including, “Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes” and “Your Money Or Your Life.”
It’s no secret; the city is seriously broke and desperately looking for new ways to raise cash. As you may have noticed, dog license fees have risen dramatically over the past few years, as has the cost of bribing traffic court judges. Also, homeowners are now being charged a monthly “storm water management fee” for the rain that falls on their houses.
Then of course there’s the property tax which, they say, has become unfairly apportioned since men in three-cornered hats on horseback last calculated it. The city thus launched a reassessment program called AVATAR (“All Voters Are Taxed And Retaxed”), which was carried out by radio-controlled drones with cameras launched from a command center in City Hall Tower.
As a result, about a quarter of the city’s property owners will be paying significantly more in taxes, but that’s still not enough to get the government out of hock. Therefore, after consulting with my personal money guru, “Fiscal Cliff” (last name withheld), I have come up with the following foolproof ways of raising money. I offer them to our impoverished municipality, free of charge, as a public service.
• Requiring licenses for pet birds, fish, ant farms and houseplants would raise an additional $20 million. Doping city workers could SAVE $20 million. Doping worked for Lance Armstrong and his USPS team, why not use it to make municipal employees more cost-efficient? Dope the letter carriers too. Then we could keep Saturday deliveries AND add Sundays to boot.
• Last year, the school district spent around $14,000 per child in district-run schools. Why not just give each student $10,000 to attend a private school. They’d get a better education, and it’s $4,000 cheaper. It’s a win-win situation.
• Instead of mandating costly jail terms for a variety of crimes, just levy fines. First degree murder, $50,000; jaywalking, $99.50, etc. Then people could decide beforehand if they have enough money to murder someone, jaywalk or whatever. Bottom line, you get either less crime or more money. Another win-win situation.
• The city has already taxed vices like alcohol and tobacco to the max, and most recently, folks balked when the mayor proposed taxing sugary drinks, so maybe it’s time to start taxing some virtues. For instance, how about a tax on paying your taxes? Since the city seems uninterested in chasing down tax evaders, why not just re-tax the upstanding citizens who have already proven that they’re good for the money?
• A happy tax. Everyone in the city would receive a robo-call from the Mayor, saying, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands and press five.” So they press five and BAM — 2% of their bank account is automatically transferred to the city coffers. It’s only fair. Why should anyone be happy while others are sad? Aren’t we all supposed to believe in equality?
• According to the city’s director of aging, Philadelphia’s senior population is growing by leaps and bounds, but no one is passing on to the Great Beyond. Everyone is working so hard to stay young that they’re collecting pensions for many decades after retiring, and it’s overtaxing the system. Everyone should be encouraged to age appropriately. Anyone who is found to be not aging should be given a few good pokes with an electric cattle prod to get them back on the fast track to Paradise.
By implementing even some of these modest proposals, I believe our city can create enough revenue to fund all those vital city services for years to come. You’re welcome, Philadelphia.