Be Like Madonna: Go Where the Money Is


November 27, 1992|By CARL T. ROWAN

WASHINGTON — Washington. -- Dear President-Elect Clinton:

notice that you're already sweating over how to keep your promise to pull this nation out of an economic disaster.

I see you talking about investment tax credits, Franklin Roosevelt-type public-works programs, hiking taxes on people who earn more than $200,000 a year. I kinda get the feeling that neither you nor your advisers really think there's a ghost of a chance of balancing the budget for years.

Since desperate times call for rash measures, I want to call your attention to some painless ways in which the federal government can raise colossal revenues.

First, there is sex. S-E-X!

Someone recently lent me a heavy-metal copy of Madonna's book, ''SEX.'' I almost fell out of my breakfast nook chair, not because the voyeurism and sluttery were all that titillating; I just couldn't believe that enough people would pay 50 bucks for a copy of this ''book'' to make it number one on the New York Times best-seller list.

Think, Mr. Clinton, about the revenues the government could gain by getting into the sex-publishing business. All the fiction best-sellers feature copulation with lurid details. During the Great Depression, the federal government financed writers' workshops, but FDR didn't use this to enrich the treasury. Why don't you have the government run contests to see who can write the most lurid novels, the most outrageously sexy bits of nonfiction, with, say, 90 per cent of the royalties going to the government?

This could even lead to the Treasury Department franchising bordellos in which the new Madonnas would brandish tummy tattoos by the surgeon general swearing that nothing available would be dangerous to anyone's health. You know, the new medical care.

The next best thing to sex is gambling -- fiscally speaking, of course.

How can you just flounder in Reagan-Bush red ink when a federal lottery, or a chain of federally run casinos, could be your life raft?

Indian reservations are finding solvency in gambling games. Chicago's mayor and the Illinois governor are wrangling over the right of the Windy City to get casinos and suck some money back from the riverboat gamblers. More and more states have started lotteries in lieu of the suicidal business of raising taxes. So why shouldn't the federal government take in billions by exploiting the average sucker's fantasies of becoming rich overnight?

To hell with the moral considerations. You can always claim that you'll spend the gambling gains on education and health care.

And, Mr. Clinton, don't forget how much money can be gained from polarizing the American people on ''social issues,'' and especially race. Presidents Reagan and Bush spread divisiveness for 12 years and didn't gain a dollar for the treasury; that flame-thrower of ethnic and racial polarization, Rush Limbaugh, is raking money in faster than the IRS. Bigotry is big business.

The government's big problem is that it hasn't learned the art of super-hype about things such as sex and Malcolm X, or croupier pay and the movie ''JFK.'' That's not poetry, just painful truth.

It's also sad truth that many Americans are saying seriously, ''Mr. Clinton, don't tax me. Emulate bank robber Willie Sutton and just go where the money is.''

Carl T. Rowan is a syndicated columnist.

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