Play Tax?


Is the best way to break the cycle of Nature Deficit Disorder by intervening through the wallet into Mom and Dad’s Outdoor Attention Disorder?

It seems sometimes that where our dollars go is often higher on the radar than where our kids go. So maybe New Mexico is on to something. This assumes, however, that the national movement appealing to parents’ and grandparents’ right action on their children’s behalf based on a new understanding of the problem and its consequences is not working. What do you think? (link via Child and Nature Journal.)

How would American children feel if their government forced them to play outside? How would they feel if after a long day of school and work American children were penalized by the government for playing video games and watching TV? How might American parents feel if the federal government implemented a special tax on televisions and video games in order to deter obesity and force their children to engage in more physical activity?

No, this is not the plot to a newly discovered George Orwell novel. According to a recent article, a coalition of groups led by the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club is lobbying the New Mexico legislature to pass a bill that would place a 1% sales tax on televisions, video games, and video game equipment. The tax revenue would be used for government sponsored outdoor education programs as a means of deterring children from sitting on the couch and to encourage them to be more athletic. The bill attempts to combat childhood obesity.

Some argue that if cigarettes and alcohol are taxed in order to deter people from engaging in unhealthy, even self-destructive behavior, then why not do the same for television, video games and equipment; it’s only fair, right? Read more...

And just because I’m too lazy to start a new post, for Virginia voters: Please vote TOMORROW. Not sure where? Here’s how to find out. LINK

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. When I was a kid the government did force us to play outside. It was called recess. Running, jumping, tackling, and other dangerous activities were encouraged.

  2. yes, more recesses would be nice. by first grade here, they only get one 15 minute recess. that’s in a 7 hour school day. how many adults can sit still that long? counterproductive to me.

    and being the fiscally conservative/less government person i am, i say no to that kind of tax.

  3. I think they may be onto something as well…though I’m not certain the 1% taxing would change things that much…but I know nothing. I do feel we need to do something in this country to limit the time our children spend vegetating between the computer games, IM, and television. They are missing out on their potential for imagination at work. I miss the days of my own childhood when my girlfriends and I could turn a flat rock into a dinner plate–heh.