Russell is slowly working his way back to Ho Chi Minh City, where he will stay for a day or two and then head north. One of his recent stops was in My Tho, a Mekong Delta town not far from Ho Chi Minh City.
I don’t use indoor tanning salons and can’t imagine doing so — but I question the underlying concept of the “tanning tax.” Do we really want to get into the habit of taxing what the federal government considers to be risky behavior? Should sports cars and motorcycles be taxed at higher rates than sedans? Should mountain climbers, skydivers, and participants in extreme sports should be taxed more heavily than couch potatoes? We are moving beyond “sin taxes” on alcohol, tobacco, and gambling to a new realm of governmental efforts to modify human behavior — and I am not comfortable that the government is well-situated to make those kinds of judgments.
The “tanning tax” is a good example of what can happen when the government makes these kinds of decisions. The “Botax” would have produced more revenue than the “tanning tax,” but it had powerful opponents who were able to derail that initiative. Most tanning salons, in contrast, are locally owned small businesses without significant political clout. In the test of political muscle, the tanning salon owners lost. Political clout doesn’t seem like the most scientific way to determine behavioral modification goals, however.
This morning I played golf. We had an 8:20 tee time, and with an early start time you expect it to be cool during the first few holes. Not so today! It started hot and just kept getting hotter and hotter.
Our group walks and carries our bags to maximize the exercise and rhythm of the golfing experience. Today, only a hole or two into the round, it was as if someone had drenched us with buckets of warm fluid. We drank water — Lord knows we drank lots of water — but sweated it out immediately.
After the turn it became difficult to gag down still more water, but you know you have to do so or risk heat stroke. By the last few holes we were staggering ahead under the broiling sun, just hoping to put the club on the ball and make our way back to the clubhouse. My shirt was plastered to my back, sweat poured down my forehead, and every time I lined up a putt beads of sweat dropped onto my glasses. By the time I got home every article of clothing I wore was wringing wet, sweat stained, and stiff with salt.