“We’re desperate,” said Jules Grosvenor, pacing the conference room. “We have to pay for schools, roads, and personal junkets, but every time we impose a tax, Tim Eyman funds an initiative to strike it down.”

Madeline Grossman tapped formed an ‘O’ with her mouth and tapped her cheek with her index finger to the tune of “What Will we do with the Drunken Sailor.” It was a habit she’d held onto from childhood. A few found it so irritating they were compelled to huddle in the nearest corner, arms wrapped over their heads. Most found it soothing. “The solution is to tax everything, one item after another. Rolling taxation, if you will. By the time Mr. Eyman strikes down one tax, we’ll have imposed another.”

“That could work,” said Jules. “But will the public allow us to tax everything? There’s no precedent for it.”

“We start with a hat tax. There’s a precedent for that in eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain. We’ll modernize enforcement, however, by embedding chips in each hat. If the tax hasn’t been paid, the chip will begin to leak dye, thereby ruining the hat.”

“People will stop wearing hats,” said Jules. “The hat industry will flay us.”

“The hat industry will deify us. Some people will stop wearing hats; however, others will buy more hats and pricier hats as a sign of wealth. Mr. Eyman will become incensed and work to abolish the tax, but in the meantime we will already have begun the process of imposing a hair-powder tax, which also has a precedent.”

Jules smoothed his hair, which was full on top, yet streaked with gray. “Nobody wears hair powder.”

“Not until we impose the tax. Then it will be a status symbol to wear hair powder, and as a result the couch doily industry will flourish. Next we’ll tax gloves, wallpaper, and dice, which, again, all have a precedent. All this will have buoyed up the economy so successfully that we can progress to imposing a window tax without objection.”

Jules grasped the back of one of the conference chairs. “My god, Madeline. You’re a genius.” He put his mouth in the shape of an “O” and attempted to tap out the theme from Rocky.

“Don’t do that,” said Madeline. “It doesn’t suit you. If you have to take up a bad habit, take up smoking cigars in the upper east room, like Samuel Withers. It’ll further your career.”

“Thank you for the advice, Madeline. I truly appreciate it.”

“Think nothing of it. You’d do the same for me.”

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