Richard Carnes: Taxing pot, pimps and pulpits
Seventy-five million years ago there was a galactic warlord named Xenu, who gathered billions of criminals from other planets and imprisoned them inside Earth’s volcanoes, along with a few million hydrogen bombs.
After detonation their souls remained and are currently residing inside our bodies, causing around 99 percent of what ails us today.
Scientologists believing such drivel number at least half a million and they collect over half a billion dollars in revenue each year, all of it tax free because their insane belief is considered a religion — thus the IRS stays away.
Hold that thought a minute.
Legal prostitution in Nevada brings in over $50 million a year, yet 99 percent of the prostitutes work in Vegas and Reno, where it is still illegal. National estimates range from a low of $50 billion in total revenue all the way to half a trillion dollars in actual collected, but never taxed, revenue for the “escort” industry.
That’s a large wad o’ cash under the lap dance table.
A thorough study in 2006 concluded cannabis (pot, reefer, weed, ganja) was the No. 1 cash crop in the nation, worth more than corn and wheat combined. Like prostitution, pot is currently illegal, hence no official sales figures are available. Yet estimates range from $10.5 billion a year all the way to $113 billion in annual, tax-free, revenue.
That’s a high heap of hemp-flavored taxless dinero.
Yet both pimps and pot pale in financial comparison to the potential perks gained from taxing religious organizations in the United States.
Allowing them tax exemptions because they in turn provide benefits to society is noble (and quite effective in many cases), but it is the 1st Amendment that is actually responsible for the status.
Separation of church and state as a policy is a two-fold theory: it prevents religion from controlling the government and the government from controlling religion.
A pragmatic concept when held to a parameter of accepted standards, but reality, such as the Bush administration’s “faith-based initiatives” of the past eight years (which costs billions), twists the notions of religious interference in the worst possible ways.
While I admit it is probably not in the best interests of our religious freedom tenet to tax them (it is indeed hard to imagine a church being shut down for failure to pay back taxes), I do believe all churches, regardless of affiliation, are protected (thus subsidized) with police and fire protection provided by taxes. So it’s an issue for all of us.
Upward of $200 billion (based on nationally verified estimates of revenues, property taxes, etc.) could be collected annually from religious organizations, and combined with pimps and pot taxes, could erase our federal deficit in just a few years as opposed to leaving it for our children’s children to deal with.
For the record, I have never met a pimp (that I am aware of), have smoked pot twice in the last 25 years (yes, I inhaled and then consumed a whole mess of brownies), and fully respect a person’s right to believe in the supernatural in spite of all the evidence ever collected since man developed the ability to collect.
I am merely suggesting we tax the previously untaxable, especially if their up until now tax-free status has been based upon silly science fiction, ancient mythology, moral hypocrisy, or all three combined.
Personally, I’m not the least bit afraid of the wrath of Xenu.
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.