Recently on Forbes.com, writer Tim Worstall wrote the following:
“I agree that this sounds entirely absurd, that women who take the contraceptive pill should pay £1,000 ($1,500) a year more in tax, but it is the inevitable outcome of the standard logic that the polluter should pay.”
Women who take contraceptives are “polluters” — and this is “standard logic”? What? Here’s what’s going on:
-Worstall’s suggestion is a reaction to a £30 billion ($46 billion) bill currently being floated in the U.K., which is being proposed to help clean up bodies of water that contain hormones “polluted” by birth control pills.
-Studies have shown that when ethinyl estradiol (EE2), the active ingredient in birth control pills, enters the water supply (after it passes through women and into the toilet and eventually into the water supply), it can cause a sexual mutation known as intersex in fish, which causes fish to exhibit both male and female characteristics. It also decreases the sperm count of male fish, which means fish populations are shrinking.
-In order to regulate EE2 levels, sewage systems need to be upgraded with “granular activated carbon” systems that will cut down the presence of EE2 in the water. This is what costs billions of dollars.
-Of course, the problem isn’t limited to the U.K. Birth control on this side of the pond has EE2 as well, and that means it’s having the same effects on American fish.
A smallmouth bass. Many fish of this type in the Potomac River have been exposed to EE2.
-So, the question at hand is who should pay for the cleanup. Proponents of the bill say that pharmaceutical companies and regular taxpayers should pay.
-But using that “polluter should pay” logic, Worstall argues that the women who use birth control pills should pay — $1500 each, per year.
This is a terribly flawed idea for a number of reasons. Just one reason: women who use birth control to avoid getting pregnant are already saving taxpayer dollars by not having kids. Another: “polluter should pay logic” might make sense for corporations, but the logic really doesn’t hold when you apply it to people. People who drive SUVs or fly private jets don’t pay higher taxes for the pollution they create.
As Worstall initially stated, “this sounds entirely absurd.” He’s right. It is.