Monday, November 15, 2010



There came a time when there was a tax on everything. Well, almost everything.

There was tax on money earned, tax on money unearned. Tax on money spent, tax on money saved. Value Added Tax on everything you bought, and sales tax on everything you sold--and extra tax on booze and tobacco. Tax on owning a house. Tax on owning a car. Death tax, inheritance tax, tax on this, tax on that. It went on and on.

One day, the ministers sat around discussing what they could tax next.

"There is nothing left to tax," said one minister.

"But government needs more money," said another minister.

"There must be something taxable that still is not taxed," said a third minister.

"I know," said yet another minister. (There was no shortage of ministers--they were paid from tax money.) "We could institute a flatulence tax."

The room went silent.

"A tax on passing wind?" said Minister One. "That’s ingenious. But how can it be enforced?"

"Easy," said Minister Two. "It is a fact that everyone passes wind." The other Ministers nodded in agreement. "So nobody can dispute that tax is owed. Furthermore, those who pass wind a lot should pay more tax than those who do not."

"It is very justifiable," reasoned Minister Three. "Those who pass wind a lot are polluting the air we breathe. So they should certainly pay more tax."

"Precisely," said Minister Four, whose brainchild this was.

"But how can one determine who passes wind a little and who passes wind a lot?" posed Minister Two.

Minister Four smiled a knowing smile as he dipped into his briefcase. "The Flatulator."

"The what?" said Minister One.

"My own invention," said Minister Four.

"How does it work?" asked Minister Two.

Said Minister Four: "Our science lab has dissected all the various gases of flatulence and determined that one percent of all flatus contains five gases that smell: ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, indole, skatole and short-chain fatty acids. The Flatulator identifies one or more of these gases in the immediate vicinity." Minister Four flicked a switch and turned on The Flatulator. It immediately sounded an alarm and flashed red. "Hmmm, which one of you guys farted?"

Minister Two blushed.

"Ingenious," said Minister One. "But we can't follow everyone around with Flatulators."

"Of course not," said Minister Four. "We don't follow tax-payers around for income tax either. We have the honor system, with random checks and audits to keep our populace reasonably honest." He tapped his instrument. "With our Flatulator, we can conduct random checks and audits."

"How would that actually work?" asked Minister Two.

"Let us say that Miss Jones pays a declared tax on three farts per day," said Minister Four. "One day, whilst out in public, she is secretly followed by a tax inspector equipped with The Flatulator. If it transpires that Miss Jones farts more than thrice--and this takes no account of her private farting--she is in violation. Miss Jones is confronted on the spot and issued a citation for back tax, excuse the pun, and a penalty. The beauty here is that tax-payers will be more concerned with public confrontation than the financial penalty, so they'll pay up from the get-go."

"What if Miss Jones had the bad luck to eat cheese and onion pie on the day she was scoped with this Flatulator?" asked Minister Two.

"As you say," sighed Minister Four. "Bad luck."

"Perhaps we need a legal opinion," said Minister One. "What if your Miss Jones decides to sue the tax authorities for invasion of privacy?"

"Nothing is private so far as taxation is concerned," huffed Minister Four. "If Miss Jones has been dishonest about her tax obligations, she should count her blessings that she is not criminally prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and thrown in prison."

"I like it," said Minister Two. "Not least because it is environmentally correct."

"How so?" said Minister Three.

"People will pass wind less often, if only because the Flatus Police might be on their tail, no pun intended."

"You realize," said Minister One, a gleam in his eye. "This may give wind to a whole new tax."

"I see where you're headed with this," said Minister Two.

"A pooping tax?" said Minister Three.

"We are doing rather well, today, aren't we?" said Minister One.

An orderly knocked the open door and stepped inside. "Meds," he said.