Health Care Reform: Why Not Tax Tattoos?

The house and senate health care bills are going to require trillions of dollars of new taxes over the next couple decades. Today the news reported that congress intends to tax tanning beds, junk food, medical devices, and plastic surgery.
But what about tattoos?
Few people realize that tattoos pose a serious helath risk, but they are method of transmission for the hepatitis.

An alarming research study recently published by Dr. Bob Haley and Dr. Paul Fischer at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas uncovered that the “innocent” commercial tattoo may be the number one distributor of hepatitis C. The study was published in the journal Medicine (Haley RW, Fischer RP, Commercial tattooing as a potentially source of hepatitis C infection, Medicine, March 2000;80:134-151). Dr. Haley, a preventative medicine specialist and a former Center for Disease Control (CDC) infection control official, is exceptionally knowledgeable to prepare the study.
Dr. Haley concludes, “We found that commercially acquired tattoos accounted for more than twice as many hepatitis C infections as injection-drug use. This means it may have been the largest single contributor to the nationwide epidemic of this form of hepatitis.”
Incredible. According to Dr. Haley’s research you are twice as likely to be infected with hepatitis C from getting a tattoo from a tattoo shop than shooting up dope! With over 20 million Americans wearing a tattoo – and growing by leaps and bounds – we are likely staring down the barrel of a mammoth deadly epidemic.
The study also found that people who get tattooed in a commercial tattoo parlor were nine times more likely to get hepatitis C! That’s nine times more likely to be infected by a deadly, fatal disease. And Dr. Haley is not referring to “backyard-prison-tattoos” but a tattoo from a “sanitized” commercial tattoo shop.
Did you know the deadly disease hepatitis C kills over 10,000 people a year? And sky-rocketing. . . Currently 4 million Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis C and rising. . . And according to Dr. Haley, it’s number one channel—the deadly tattoo. . . Courtesy of your friendly commercial tattoo parlor.
There is the documentated case of a 22-year-old grocery store employee who simply received his $45 tattoo. And four weeks later – needed a liver transplant! (Mryna L. Armstrong and Lynne Kelly, Tattooing, Body Piercing, and Branding Are on the Rise, The Journal of School Nursing, Feb. 2001, Vol 17 No. 1, p.15)

I thought about this aftwer watching a recent 60 Minutes episode which described how Yakuza bosses were coming to the United States to get liver transplants because their tattoos were causing non-hepatitis liver disease.

“Right now, we don’t hide the fact that we’re Yakuza,” the anonymous Yakuza boss told Logan.
He was introduced to “60 Minutes” by Jake Adelstein in downtown Tokyo. Beneath his expensive suit, his body is a canvas, like many Yakuza, covered with intricate tattoos.
“Physically, the tattoos take their toll on your body,” Logan remarked.
“The tattoos are so dense that it’s very hard to sweat, which means when you can’t get rid of the toxins in your body, that’s also very hard on the liver,” Adelstein explained.

So clearly tattoos are “bad for you.” If we’re going to tax things that are “bad for you” than why not tax tattoos. I’ll go even further to state that every American should file a yearly Tattoo Return that describes how much of their skin is covered in ink and pay a tax accordingly. The tax on a simple tramp stamp should be equivelent to what a pack a day smoker would pay over the course of a year. The tax on a full sleeve would of course be much greater.
The decision to get a tattoo is a decision to put the taxpayers on the hook for the high cost of a future liver transplant. If we’re going to be raising taxes to pay for health care “reform” this seems like a fair way to do it.

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