How will the jobless afford such a thing?
November 20, 2009 3:57 AM   Subscribe

 
Imagine a Tea Party tax protest rally with all of the shouting botox paralyzed "patriots" unable to show the anger on their blank faces while they scream nazi Obama. The permanently surprised look of the overdone facelift crowd; all of those pert, slightly upturned noses and the hair club for men second chance do's.
posted by Daddy-O at 4:21 AM on November 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


I guess putting our top marginal rates back where they were to bring them in line with most of the civilized world is out of the question. Rich people gotta eat too!
posted by DU at 4:38 AM on November 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Taxing cosmetic surgery is big-government tyranny at its worst. No Washington bureaucrat is going to tell me what to do with my body.

We should be going after abortion instead.
posted by PlusDistance at 4:56 AM on November 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Some people think that employers are putting too much of the compensation for high-payed workers as "Cadillac" health-care plans that cover everything, including electives. But, a lot of people don't want to cap the employer health care tax exemption, particularly unions who use it as something to negotiate over.

So we end up with idiotic idea of taxing the insurance companies for offering expensive healthcare plans. Of course, logically it makes no difference which side actually gets taxed, if the price of the transaction goes up, both sides pay. Now they're apparently adding cosmetic surgery to the list of things to tax.

It's all quite stupid. The original plan was to pay for all of this by auctioning off Carbon Dioxide emission permits, but the energy lobbyists got congress to give most (85%) away to current emitters for free. Awesome.

--

While the healthcare bill will be an improvement to the status quo, it's really a monument to the epic dysfunctionality of our government and the democratic party.
posted by delmoi at 5:04 AM on November 20, 2009


I don't have a problem with this as long as it's clear what 'elective cosmetic surgery' is: i.e. I look like a freak and no one will talks to me v. I look like a freak and no one talks to me.
posted by tellurian at 5:28 AM on November 20, 2009


Seems like yet another sin tax; most of the time that sins are taxed, it's because they have impact on society- liquor and cigarettes are the obvious examples, with their attendant sickness and death.

In this case, the sin is vanity, and there seems to be no harm done outside of offenses to good taste as embodied by Nancy Pelosi's forehead or Bruce Jenner's... everything.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:40 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


In addition, he said the tax would be especially hurtful in tough economic times that have prompted many newly jobless women to look for ways to make themselves more marketable to prospective employers. He said, "They're competing with people 10 to 15 years younger than them and they want to look better."

Heaven forbid they might actually have 10-15 additional years of experience or skills to look better in competition! A lot of places are already set up with seniority systems rather than merit-based promotion, but no, old people flat-out deserve jobs more than the young, and making them compete would be wrong!

I wonder what world these people live in, where people need, need, need jobs right now, but injecting botulism toxin into the skin not only sounds like a good idea, but can be considered a necessity.
posted by explosion at 5:52 AM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


First they came for the Botox, and I did not speak out—because I was not an oldster;
Then they came for the breast implants, and I did not speak out—because I was not a breastman;
Then they came for the liposuction, and I did not speak out—because I believe in size acceptance;
Then they came for the blepharoplasty, and I did not speak out—because I feel it's a concession to xenophobia;
Then they came for my hair plugs—and there was no one left to speak out for me.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:25 AM on November 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wow. The rest of the world has figured out how to operate health care at a reasonable level. Why can't the United States govt?
posted by blue_beetle at 7:03 AM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Retroactive tax on Joan Rivers = problem solved. Thanks folks, I'll be here all week.
posted by mattholomew at 7:08 AM on November 20, 2009



Wow. The rest of the world has figured out how to operate health care at a reasonable level. Why can't the United States govt?



We're exceptional.
posted by The Whelk at 7:15 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


"First they came for the Botox, and I did not speak out—because I was not an oldster"

Yeah, it's all funny until you find yourself paying an extra $500-$700 dollars a year in taxes designed to change your behavior into something closer to what has been arbitrarily defined as mainstream, and "good" behavior by a bunch of people trying to win votes. The recent tendency in this country to pay for the "good" by taxing the "bad" is getting a little out of control and starting down a path that concerns me.

It's still the majority enforcing their will on the minority, and it still sucks.
posted by 517 at 7:19 AM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Heaven forbid they might actually have 10-15 additional years of experience or skills to look better in competition! A lot of places are already set up with seniority systems rather than merit-based promotion, but no, old people flat-out deserve jobs more than the young, and making them compete would be wrong!

I'm not sure I can even follow this train of logic, but it may surprise you to know that ageism really is an issue in a number of industries, and looking younger than one's years could certainly be an advantage in the corporate world, yes. It could be an advantage in all sorts of realms. We're at once a people that celebrates youth to a ridiculous degree and lives longer than any other in history. This creates a problem that you either understand at the moment or will most certainly understand later on.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:45 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


How about we raise taxes on the rich?
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:53 AM on November 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


I guess putting our top marginal rates back where they were to bring them in line with most of the civilized world is out of the question. Rich people gotta eat too!

You see, that's the magic of it. Those Bush tax cuts? They expire next year. We don't even have to actually repeal them at all. It will work automatically. The Republicans can't even bring a bill up for debate in the House. So if we all work together to keep the GOP out of power in the house, we don't even have to worry about it. It fixes itself.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:09 AM on November 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


What is vanity plastic surgery, what is plastic surgery to correct real issues that interfere with body images?

A gangbanger goes straight and decides to live lawfully, yet his gang tattoos follow him everywhere. There *are* doctors who do a great public service by removing gang tattoos from those who want to go straight, but I am sure demand exceeds teh supply of doctors.
So is that Vanity plastic surgery?

There was an askme thread about gynecomastia. That can be considered vanity, perhaps for some narcissistic men it is, but also what about the man who won't go to a beach, or swimming, or is scared shitless of asking someone out, or heaven forfend, getting to the point of being nekkid, or who constantly got "titty-twisters" when young and is now a pretty depressed miserable friendless person? Insurance won't cover that, OK, but is that a vanity or a sin tax?

Surely if the rest of the industrialized world can manage this the US can.
posted by xetere at 8:10 AM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hmm. I do wonder how much of the elective cosmetic procedures over the past 10 years were really a result of baby boomers feeling like they had a lot of disposable income, first from the tech boom and stock market run-up in the late 1990s and then by the housing bubble. It seems like a questionable assumption that the amount of money that was spent on Botox and tummy tucks and breast implants in 2007 is going to continue to be paid going forward. Not to mention cosmetic surgery is probably pretty linked to the economic climate in general; I'd imagine that as unemployment goes up and wages stagnate, you'd see a sharp drop-off in luxury purchases like this and the tax revenue they raise, right at the same time that you see an uptick in the amount of revenue *needed* to pay for premium subsidies as more people qualify.

As a piece of tax policy, it strikes me as pretty questionable on those grounds alone. I'm not a huge fan of plastic surgery, but this sort of thing drives me crazy. It's bad policy that everyone probably knows is bad policy but they're going to do it anyway, because we have a political system that has created politicians that are forced to promise they would never raise taxes on the middle class, while delivering at the same time promising to deliver reforms that will benefit (not exclusively) the middle class.

Health care reform is needed, it's going to do some great things for the truly poor, some pretty good things for the middle-class, a few nice things for upper-middle and upper-class people. It's really depressing that even on an issue like this we have to have politicians do gimmicky stupid taxes rather than have an adult conversation about what the best and most stable way to pay for this is. I'm becoming more and more convinced that our entire country is going to follow California right down the rabbit hole.
posted by iminurmefi at 8:19 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


ageism really is an issue in a number of industries

You're right. Rather than judging candidates by skills or decision-making abilities, they very often dictate a minimum or suggested number of years of experience, essentially locking out young, motivated workers and relegating them to crushingly boring jobs where their skills fester.

Let's also not forget the unwritten rules that perpetually bias against the young or single. Chose to get married and have kids? Time off to deal with them isn't questioned. Chose to pursue something else? Better get good at making excuses or have a very nice boss.

Promotions come so often to those who are "waiting in line" rather than by merit, and having a younger person "hop over" an older person is considered an offense, rather than a wake-up-call that the older person isn't pulling their weight. If layoffs are happening? The young have to hope there isn't a "last in, first out" policy, and the management will often sympathize more with folks who have "a mortgage to pay and kids to feed" rather than the younger workers who are too poor to even contemplate buying a house!

I'm not going to say that all old folks are complacent and lazy, far from it. However, it's so ingrained in our society that elders are bosses, and that promotions and pay raises are deserved for seniority, that a lot of older folks have a tough time accepting the fact that they don't deserve any more than someone half their age, when they're not bringing anything more than someone half their age.
posted by explosion at 8:23 AM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Does breast reconstruction for women who've undergone treatment for breast cancer count as "elective cosmetic surgery"?
posted by autoclavicle at 8:36 AM on November 20, 2009


If my health insurance paid for elective cosmetic surgery, maybe I could finally get those eyeball tattoos and police-dog-style titanium teeth.
posted by box at 9:30 AM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm not going to say that all old folks are complacent and lazy, far from it. However, it's so ingrained in our society that elders are bosses, and that promotions and pay raises are deserved for seniority, that a lot of older folks have a tough time accepting the fact that they don't deserve any more than someone half their age, when they're not bringing anything more than someone half their age.

It probably really depends on where you're working. The kind of thing you're describing could also be described as loyalty to employees on the part of an employer. (That's not a bad thing, really, if you as an employer value a comfortable work environment without a great deal of turnover. If you don't value that, you should.) I think finding a balance between rewarding loyalty and putting talent in positions where it can do the most good is a pretty tough thing to pull off to everyone's satisfaction. And frankly, experience can be as every bit as useful to an organization as skill and a zest for innovation.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:43 AM on November 20, 2009


Oh, luxury taxes! What tax could ever seem to wise, or historically work out so poorly?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:47 AM on November 20, 2009


Those Bush tax cuts? They expire next year.

What about the Reagan tax cuts?
posted by DU at 10:03 AM on November 20, 2009


What about the Reagan tax cuts?

Yes. Let's please go back to the days of 70% marginal rates.
posted by gyc at 10:26 AM on November 20, 2009


Yes. Let's please go back to the days of 70% marginal rates.

I don't know if you meant it sarcastically, but I don't: YES, LET'S!
posted by DU at 10:30 AM on November 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


autoclavicle: "Does breast reconstruction for women who've undergone treatment for breast cancer count as "elective cosmetic surgery"?"

At least in New York state, it does not. Insurance companies have to cover it, including corrective surgeries if the results of the original surgery/surgeries are not aesthetically pleasing enough, and any future corrective surgery if an implant drops, or whatever.
posted by kathrineg at 10:39 AM on November 20, 2009


xetere: "What is vanity plastic surgery, what is plastic surgery to correct real issues that interfere with body images?"

This is an interesting point. In fact, there are clinics in NYC that cater specifically to people who can't afford plastic surgery but really want it done. They're not cheap anyway, because of hospital costs, but the doctors involved waive their surgical fees so that more people can access these surgeries.

I actually went to try them out and get a consultation for my nose, which has a bump on one side of the bone that has been getting progressively larger. Every time I see a picture of myself I'm reminded of the fact that when I broke my nose, my parents yelled at me for bothering them and threw a towel at my face. Is that a good enough reason to get the surgery, or is it vanity? Probably a little bit of both. I decided against it, ultimately, because I can't afford 3k plus a week off of work.

Another person in the waiting room with me had a mangled ear. But surgery's not necessary for that either, I guess. Humane, but not absolutely necessary. So let's tax it, just like we tax soda and anything else that poor people shouldn't be allowed to have.
posted by kathrineg at 10:53 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes. Let's please go back to the days of 70% marginal rates.

Also called "the days we actually paid for the wars we fought," and "the days when we rose to a global superpower with an unprecedented high standard of living and a strong, healthy middle class."
posted by dirigibleman at 11:29 AM on November 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm curious: I know cosmetic medicine has no chance of becoming illegal, but I was wondering if perhaps a positive aspect of vice taxes is that they might keep vices from being outlawed.

After all, many people think gambling is wrong and should be illegal, but many state governments gets a lot of money from gambling (like the lotteries and videopoker machines).

Also, the perennial argument for marijuana legalization is that taxes on the sale could solve deficits. Wouldn't it also work in reverse?

Of course, this is all devil's advocate. I don't think there should be taxes beyond sales tax on surgeries and substances that don't cause major problems for society.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:00 PM on November 20, 2009


Yeah, I can't possibly imagine the ways that this could bite women and trans people, two groups not traditionally well served by US medicine, in the arse.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:00 PM on November 20, 2009


Yeah, I can't possibly imagine the ways that this could bite women and trans people, two groups not traditionally well served by US medicine, in the arse.

Yeah.

We put women under tremendous cultural pressure to be young and attractive. We put ads for Botox in their magazines and plastic surgeons on their talk shows. We make getting surgery to be more beautiful normal...

I've met several high-powered, intelligent women who have had cosmetic surgery because they felt it was necessary in order for them to retain their "edge" in a very competitive field. Like it or not, women are judged by their looks much more harshly than men are. An older, fatter, and less attractive woman will be unconsciously judged to be less competent. The decision to get cosmetic surgery was more than vanity for them.

They could afford to pay additional taxes, but it hardly seems fair to me that women would be so disproportionately affected.

I have no idea how trans issues would be handled, but I can barely imagine it being handled well.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:42 PM on November 20, 2009


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