Land of the Free (Ad-Supported)

One approach to reducing the U.S. federal deficit is to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. This seems like a reasonable approach, but is it really fair to ask the super-rich to give up their tax cuts and get nothing in return (except for a more functional economy, which they’d have to share with everyone)? I don’t think it is. That’s why I’ve come up with this proposal, which will raise revenues by rolling back the tax cuts, but will make the rollbacks more palatable by providing incentives for those who pay the most.

Here’s how it works: each individual and corporation that pays $100,000 or more in taxes (or in a combination of taxes and voluntary contributions to the US treasury) will receive the following:

If you pay $100,000 – $499,999, you get a red, white, and blue tote bag.

If you pay $500,000 – $999,999, you get an “I paid half a million dollars in taxes, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” t-shirt (100% cotton. White with red and blue lettering. Made in Sri Lanka).

If you pay more than $1,000,000, you get your own currency run – 1000 bills or coins featuring your design on the front (or “heads”) side. You can use your own photo, a company logo, a picture of a beloved pet — anything you want. You also have the choice of buying your custom bills/coins or letting them go into general circulation.

For every $1,000,000 you pay in taxes (or donate to the US Treasury), you get a raffle ticket. Items to be raffled off include:

  • The right to name a national park, the Capitol Building, the White House, or the Supreme Court after yourself or your corporation.
  • The right to choose a symbol (e.g., a silhouette, your initials, or a corporate logo) to replace one of the stars in the official US flag design.
  • The right to choose a new national anthem — this can be your favorite song or corporate jingle.
  • The right to modify the official Pledge of Allegiance. The phrase “to the flag of the United States of America” will be replaced with “to <your phrase here> and the United States of America”. You can also replace the phrase “the republic for which it stands” and the words “liberty” and “justice” with your own words and phrases.
  • The right to attach a giant hat (e.g., a replica of your favorite team’s baseball cap, or a hat with your corporate logo) to one of the presidents’ heads at Mount Rushmore or the Lincoln Memorial.

Raffle prizes are transferable; however, if you sell your prize, the proceeds are considered taxable income.

My next step is to try to get my congressman to sponsor a bill to this effect. I just hope that, by the time it gets voted on, it’s still a call to roll back tax increases and provide incentives and not a watered-down proposal to send each household a set of address labels and ask for donations.

15 thoughts on “Land of the Free (Ad-Supported)

      1. Hahaha… but I always seem to get into trouble for that!
        The feds are SO uptight about that sort of thing… come on, people… live a little! I’ll give you a hand drawn $100 if you let this slide?!

    1. Won’t Oli be jealous? You can have them both in the same picture if you want.

      You can make voluntary contributions in addition to your taxes, so you don’t really need to make $24M to get your picture on the dollar (unless your regular annual living expenses are $23M).

  1. It sounds like a winning idea to me, Laura, but could I make one extra suggestion? It may be silly, but as an added incentive, maybe those who pay over $1,000,000 could also choose the slogan that appears on a batch of t-shirts for those who pay $500,000 – $999,999. If they don’t like the slogan they get, people in this bracket can then pay the extra to bring their payment to over $1,000,000 and select a better slogan themselves…

    1. That’s an interesting idea, but there isn’t really a way to require people to wear the t-shirts they receive. Maybe a better incentive would be to add a slogan to the uniforms worn by mail carriers. Or sell ad space on mail trucks.

    1. I’m just imagining how confusing it would be if everyone did that. I’m bad enough with names as it is — if people started changing their names every year, I’d be totally confused.

  2. I remember reading a Smithsonian Magazine article about selling ad space on US currency. It was written as a letter from an unnamed treasury secretary. It was stipulated that no image of a president or other figure featured as the central face could be modified, with the exception of Ben Franklin, who could be used in before and after shots for Rogain.

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