September 24, 2020

WELL, THIS IS A SILLY IDEA, BUT IT PROVIDES ME WITH AN INSPIRATION: Using A Pigouvian Tax To Reduce Gun Violence. The problem with this idea is that gun ownership is a net positive for society, reducing violence by more than it produces violence. Properly understood, a “Pigouvian tax” on firearms ownership would in fact be a subsidy.

But I was inspired to think about a Pigouvian tax on a societal institution where that is clearly not the case: Higher Education. As we have been assured by all the leading authorities, 1 in 5 women who attend college is raped. We thus need to tax higher education institutions at a level sufficient to compensate the 20% of their female students who are victimized. Taxes laid on gross revenues would probably be passed on to students, so we’ll need to tax the real stakeholders in universities who — since there are no shareholders — are faculty and staff. Assume an average damage of $1 million for a rape — surely no one would dare suggest a lower figure — multiply that by 20% of the female student body size, and apply that tax to faculty and staff salaries. That may not generate enough revenue, but we could also tax gross sports revenues — where taxes can’t easily be passed on –to make up the difference.

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