Pigouvian taxes for the rest of us.
For those of you who don’t know Pigouvian taxes are taxes on activities with negative externalities designed to make actors act as though they are taking into consideration the full impact of their actions.
When most people think of Pigouvian taxes, they think of something government imposes on firms. This is likely because they think of taxes as a transfer of wealth. I often think of taxes as a cost imposed on someone, regardless of anyone’s benefit, and so I see taxation as something that anyone can do.
If someone is imposing external costs on others you have the power as a citizen to impose some small cost on them. I’m thinking specifically of congressmen, who impose a great deal of external costs on others. For this reason I support citizens imposing costs on them. Of course I don’t expect you to go out of your way (say by actually taking their money from their pay check without their permission, or making them pay for services they don’t use such as welfare or a case of beer for you and your friends), so do things that have low cost to you, or from which you gain utility.
The next time you’re near a congressman, please let out that fart you’ve been holding in; maybe even go in for a hug and then wet yourself in their arms. If you like baking, make a pie; then huck it at your mayor. Eggs are fine too. On Halloween, T.P. your local education board chair’s house first! If you’re at some kind of social event, try to corner them, then tell them all about nothing; describe your day and try to bore them to tears all while insisting that you’re getting to the point you just need a minute more. Also fart a lot while you’ve got them cornered.
Disclaimer: You are responsible for your actions. Don’t go to jail and don’t sue me! I’m just kidding (except about the farting).