Theater of the Absurd: taxes force Spanish theater to sell porn to stay open

December 5, 2014

“Detrás de la puerta verde?”

Here’s another wonderful example of the ridiculous situations created when a bloated, unsustainable social welfare state forces politicians to tax anything and everything they can think of in order to feed the beast. In this case, a Spanish theater that presents the plays of Spain’s “Shakespeare” has to sell pornography to reduce its crippling tax burden:

Crippled by colossal tax rates and falling ticket sales, the Spanish cultural sector is taking creative action to cut its tax bill, including one theatre which has changed its main business to pornography to avoid having to pay high taxes.

The tax charged on cultural performances in Spain has shot up from eight to twenty-one percent since 2011 as the government attempts to balance the books, and has drawn a broader range of products into the local VAT-like ‘sales tax’. Some have noted the uneven application of the new higher taxes, which have hit high culture but not erotica and magazines.

Theatre director Karina Garantivá said: “It’s scandalous when cultural heritage is being taxed at 21 percent and porn at only at 4 percent. Something is wrong”. Her company, which performs works by the “Spanish Shakespeare” Pedro Calderón de la Barca has decided to circumvent the new, punitive taxes by registering as a distributor of pornographic magazines – and is offering free performances.

Punters buying €16 worth of hardcore-swingers magazine Gente Libre from the company receive a ‘free’ ticket to a performance of the highly regarded 17th century comic drama El Mágico Prodigioso.

Garantivá said the law as it stands made theatres feel as if they were “in a straitjacket, suffocated”, and that “We want people to ask what kind of a society makes this kind of decision. That they compare pornography and Calderón … and reach their own conclusions”.

A tax on “cultural performances?” That might make even gentry liberals here howl in outrage.

Ms. Garantivá asks the right question in the above highlight, but I have to wonder if someone raised in Spain’s all-encompassing social welfare system could easily come to the right answer? The problem is welfare statism itself, which spends far more than it can afford and faces continual pressure to spend even more to support an aging population, while dealing with a declining birth rate. The government’s increasing tax demands thus fall on a shrinking tax base, taking more per person. It’s a recipe for economic stagnation at best and collapse at worst. It’s a growing problem confronting much of Europe, but the people most burdened by the taxes often shriek the loudest at any effort to cut taxes and benefits to more rational levels. And we’re not all that far behind.

Meanwhile, you also have to wonder about politicians who tax “Shakespeare” more than smut.

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Your tax dollars at work: EPA staffer paid $120k per year while watching porn at work

May 7, 2014
"New EPA logo?"

“New EPA logo?”

I have to ask: How do I get this job?

A congressional committee grilled leaders of the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday following reports that an agency employee confessed to spending between two and six hours per day viewing pornography on his government-issued computer during work hours.

Witnesses in the House Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing confirmed that the worker, whose name has not been disclosed, is still receiving his $120,000 salary and continues to have access to EPA computers.

When an investigator went to interview him, he was at his desk surfing sexually explicit websites.

‘How much pornography would it take for an EPA employee to lose their job?’ asked an incredulous Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who chairs the committee.

‘What does it take for you to take somebody off the computer when you discover they’re doing it? … when someone has done wrong, they’re still on the job,’ Issa fumed.

That’s a darned fine question and, if you read the rest of the article, you’ll find a rare moment of agreement between Issa and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Fool that I am, I always thought one had to work hard to earn good money. Now I know that all I need is a job at the EPA and an account at Boom-Chikka-Wow.com. I bet EPA will even pay for the subscription.

And remember, these are the same people who always say they need more of your money, and the same agency that claims ever-more power over our lives.

We’re in the best of hands.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)