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December 05, 2007



No. But then we should also up the tax on the bright; the charming; the mellifluous; the tall; the non-disabled; the witty; and those born in developed countries.

Not being vain or anything, perish the thought, but I think my net income would then be zero at best.


come on: the proposer of this nonsense has only to consider that Anne Widdecombe will be one of the main beneficiaries and we'll see it withdrawn sharpish...


Wasn't there a Kurt Vonnegut story about this? I can't remember much about it except that ballet dancers had to wear lead boots to make them as clumsy as the rest of us. And it had a Handicapper-General, whose job was to make sure all were as bad as the worst.


Oh for goodness sake. Just how obsessed are you with looks and CSI? Enough already.


I'd be on the receiving end of the money now. But when I was young I'd have been paying out. Just when I could leasy afford it.

Matt Munro

Who's Gonzano Otalora ? And who's that bird in the pic ?


William - the Vonnegut story was Harrison Bergeron, here:
There is, though, a world of difference between taxing the talented and Vonnegut's fable.
If we tax people because of their high IQs (say) they will have an incentive to work hard, to pay the tax. That's efficient. Vonnegut's equality, by contrast, is obviously inefficient.
The case against taxing IQ is primarily a practical one - how can we get people to reveal their true IQ?


Surely the mingers should be paying the lookers on account of the negative externality associated with having to suffer their hideousness?

Marcin Tustin

Yes, the difference between taxing teh wealthy and the beautiful is that taxes are levied in terms of wealth. Wealth is also relatively easily assessed.

Richard Mann

We already tax anything that confers an economic advantage via the redistributive tax system and graduated tax bands. If beautiful people earn more they will pay more naturally, if not they won't. I would imagine that studies would show no correlation between beauty and happiness independent of increased wealth anyway.

Surreptitious Evil

Finally. An easy way to reduce my tax bill without emigration. All for it :)


chris- "The case against taxing IQ is primarily a practical one - how can we get people to reveal their true IQ?"

well, if they're smart, they'll avoid the tax, so then we should tax them.

thanks for reminding me of the name of the vonnegut story. though if i wasn't so lazy, google would have told me.


If taxing the successful too much leads to Brain Drain, just think what this idea could do for Eye Candy. Its just to horrible to contemplate.


So does that mean you are against all redistribution? Hey, the good looking are also on average richer - so simple progressive tax should do the trick. And don't forget the very important argument of James Kroeger http://nontrivialpursuits.org/Tax_Policy.htm
(Basically, the NET REAL effect of progressive taxation is considerably less than the nominal effect).
And I believe in bubble up, trickle down is only yellow and warm. (i.e. The best suppliers will gain most from a widening of the demand base.)


I haven't seen anyone mention the key benefit of this kind of tax.

It is not behavior modifying.

Taxing the rich has the critical downside of discouraging wealth creation, taxing the beautiful (tall works even better) provides no incentive to become less productive, and on the whole transfers wealth from the haves to the have nots.

Glenn (pka angry economist)

Would mingers want us to impose a tax on good looking immigrants? Or perhaps to pay really bad looking ones - thus making our resident mingers look better?

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