Off With Their Thumbs

I propose that the top 2% of earners in the US have their left thumbs amputated under the direction of the Department of Health and Human Services. Of course, this would be done under the proper medical supervision and with all necessary anesthesia and post-operative analgesia. We are a humane country. Left handers would have the option of having their right thumbs removed.

Why should we do this? Because it’s fair. If you are in the top 2% in income, you likely don’t really need the thumb on your non-dominant hand as you don’t perform manual labor at work. You have advantages that the rest of the 98% of the country lack, namely more money. The operation will help level the playing field, though I must confess I haven’t seen too many tilted athletic fields so the metaphor may be needlessly slanted.

You will benefit from the procedure, as a missing thumb will soon be seen as a status symbol as well as a sign that you have made a real sacrifice for your country. A lot of kids will finish college instead of leaving early for a career in professional sports. Those who do turn pro will have a better chance of making it as an average player. Almost every highly paid athlete will be average. More fairness. But most important, you will have sacrificed for your country. You can be proud even if you earn too much.

Medical costs will plummet solving the nation’s biggest fiscal problem. After all, how much can a surgeon missing a thumb charge? More physicians will opt for the lower paying primary care specialties solving another big health problem. Further decreasing the demand for medical care will be a public wary of placing their health in a thumbless hand. Alternative medical care will soar.  You don’t need a thumb to dispense ginkgo baloba. Fairness, savings, and equality do not have to be exclusive. We are a nation of problem solvers.

The really rich will not be able to buy their way out of this mark of distinction as the income level that pulls you in will be pre-tax gross. If people defer income net worth will be used. Charitable contributions will not be deductible. There will be no exit. You’ll have to put your thumb where your money is. Thus, George Soros and Warren Buffet will soon be thumbless as will your local trial lawyer. Another playing field will be leveled.

There will those who say that government mandated thumb removal will stifle initiative and the entrepreneurial spirit. I can see how this may be true, but so what. Fairness comes first. We won’t feel so bad about all those big Wall Street bonuses under my plan. More people will choose the Peace Corps over B-School. Is there still a Peace Corps? If not we can restart it.

What about charitable giving? Won’t it fall? Well here’s where the really clever part of my scheme comes in. If the top 2% don’t give at least 20% of their gross to charity the other thumb comes off. To further mandate fairness only charities on a government approved list will count. No phony baloney family foundations designed to preserve one opposable digit will count.

What about thumb havens? Thumb treaties with the rest of the world will prevent off shore phalanx shelters. Any American who surrenders his citizenship to save his thumb will be guilty of an extraditable offense. Face it (or thumb it) you’re going to have to give it (your thumb) up if you are an economic royalist. Hollywood elites will not be able to move to Bombay – Mumbai is too PC. Thumb hunters will follow them to Uranus if necessary.

I’m open to variations on this theme. Cap and trade plans could work. Those who want to trade their thumb for income might be allowed such an option. I don’t want to crush innovation. Families with extra thumbs could make appropriate swaps with families that are short of thumbs. America is a great country; this is another way for us to prove to the rest of the world that we are number one. USA!!!

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