President Obama’s new proposal to help pay for the healthcare revamp by taxing tanning salons is almost as brilliant as that tanning-bed afterglow. Obama’s tan tax—which some proposals have put as high as 10 percent—attaches a monetary price to the health risk that tanners take when they expose themselves to radiation.
Now, as it turns out, some people have this tan tax business all mixed up, but in their confusion they’ve actually come up with a great idea. Perhaps addled by the toxins that he breathes every day, a leather tannery employee has sent us hate mail about the “PETA-based tan tax” that he fears could hurt the leather business. We’re thick-skinned (geddit?), so the vitriol doesn’t get to us, but we really like this tannery tax idea.
Although the president hasn’t yet officially included leather tanneries in his proposal, it would be a terrific next step in raising funds for healthcare—especially considering that governmental agencies have already deemed tanneries to be a threat to human health and the environment. Most leather produced in the U.S. is chrome-tanned, despite the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency considers all wastes containing chromium to be hazardous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even found that the incidence of leukemia among residents in an area surrounding one tannery in Kentucky was five times the national average. Arsenic, a common tannery chemical, has long been associated with lung cancer in workers who are exposed to it on a regular basis. And each chrome-tanning facility wastes nearly 15,000 gallons of water and produces up to 2,200 pounds of solid waste—including hair, flesh, and trimmings—for every ton of hides that it processes.
Leukemia, lung cancer, environmental destruction, and the exploitation and mutilation of cows—we can’t stand any of it. How long do you think it would take a new “tannery tax” to ruin tanneries that are already destroying our health and the planet?
Written by Logan Scherer