Monday, July 12, 2010

Is The New "Tax Tan" Racist?!?

Not that a majority of my readers would notice (or, for that matter, care), but last month a new Obama Tax quietly went into effect.
One of the less-publicized measures in the new health-care law, the tax imposes a 10 percent surcharge on the use of ultraviolet indoor tanning beds.

Supporters -- including the Obama administration, congressional Democrats and dermatologists -- have argued that the tax will raise an estimated $2.7 billion toward the cost of expanding health coverage to the uninsured, while discouraging a practice that increases the risk of skin cancer by as much as threefold in frequent users, according to scientific research.

But outraged owners of tanning salons worry that the levy could deal a death blow to an industry already reeling from the recession.
While this probably seems pretty innocuous to most people, some folks are predictably calling this "Snooki Tax" reverse racism since white people comprise about 99.9% of the customer base for tanning salons.
Mention the new "tan tax" in a major news outlet and cries of discrimination and reverse racism often follow.

The complaint surfaced on reader comment boards to blogs and news Web sites back in December, when it became clear that the levy -- a 10 percent surcharge on the use of ultraviolet tanning beds -- was likely to be included in the new health-care overhaul bill. Since then, it's been repeated by conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and Doc Thompson, a fill-in host for Glenn Beck who intoned in March, "I now know the pain of racism."

The case can seem deceptively simple: Since patrons of tanning salons are almost exclusively white, the tax will be almost entirely paid by white people and, therefore, violates their constitutional right to equal protection under the law.
On the surface, I sorta get where these people are coming from. It is indeed true that most people purchasing tans are white. It's also true that in these lean economic times, getting something like a fake tan is a luxury, not a necessity, and slapping a tax on top of this service will probably turn off even more penny pinching customers and drive some of these businesses out of commission.

That said, come the f*ck on, there's no way this is "racist". Purchasing a tan is a choice, having a permanent tan is not. People who choose to not buy a tan are making a decision, and paying the additional levy that accompanies it. And seriously, this is like 10% we're talking about. The article above says that "unlimited monthly passes at the salon run about $50", so you're talking the price of a cup of coffee here, not some tyrannical government oppression. It's five f*ckin' dollars. If you can't afford that, you should probably just do like the rest of us and go lay outdoors.[1] And BTW, in case nobody noticed, a majority of the folks responsible for this new "tax" are white. This isn't some form of "payback" from Obama.

You could argue that had the government thrown taxes for Botox and cosmetic surgery (as was originally planned, but those industries clearly had better lobbyists than tanning salons) into ObamaCare that women could call this sexist.[2] And they'd be wrong. Just like a tax on red berry Ciroc, strawberry Phillies, and Magnums wouldn't be "racist" towards black people. A purchase is a choice. Getting a tan is not a Constitutional Right, it's an indulgence.

If you don't like it, the sun's always (for now) free.

Question: Is the new "tan tax" racist? Would a similar tax on black hair products have been racist?

Some customers heated over indoor 'tan tax,' which was part of health-care law [WashPost]

'Tan tax' discussions include allegations of reverse racism [WashPost]

[1] Yes. Black people (intentionally) tan too. We just don't pay for ours.

[2] I still don't understand why (other than better lobbyists) there wasn't a similar tax added for cosmetic surgery. That would have bought in far more money than this tan tax. The government's explanation that this is all about reducing skin cancer is pure BS.

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