A tax on merely being male

    The Swedish MP Gudrun Schyman has recently proposed a special surtax on men, i.e. an extra tax on every citizen whose gender is male.

Founded on statistics

    Her argumentation rests on available statistics:

    • Perpetrators of crime, causing immense costs to society, are in about 90 % of the cases male
    • Traffic accidents are overwhelmingly caused by males
    • Nearly half of all women over 15 have been assaulted by men, almost never by women
    • Men are on the average better paid (by 5-30 %) for the same job
    • Only a small minority of corporate board members are women
    • Etc, etc.

    Her idea doesn’t seem altogether unreasonable –- those who cause a cost should also reimburse the cost they have caused. Insurance companies use this principle every day, making you pay according to the risk group you statistically happen to belong to. Car insurance is more expensive in urban areas and cheaper in rural areas, life insurance is more expensive if you are old, drivers in the 18-25 age group are statistically a higher risk and pay more, etc. If men are in a higher criminal risk group, then they should pay for the corresponding cost that crime causes –- police, courts, prisons, damages.

    Gudrun Schyman has not yet specified what this “masculinity tax” would amount to, in monetary terms. Of course, an equitable tax rate could be easily computed from available statistics. I would expect, off the top of my head, that it would amount to 5-20 % extra tax on all males. It’s conceivable that she has some kind of age differentiation in mind as well. After all, most violent crime is committed by men under 30; few male senior citizens are found among active bank robbers and rapists.

Not a laughing matter

    It would be a mistake to laugh off this idea, even if it may sound weird and even if it is not very likely to be enacted by the Swedish parliament. Because it is a rhetorical way of pointing out a very real fact. Males are, without any statistical doubt whatsoever, far more violent and far more criminal than women. Mind you, not all males by far, just a small minority. But among women you rarely find even this minority. On top of that, men as a group have cut themselves a larger slice of the wealth pie than women.

    This lopsidedness between genders may be due to environment, genetics, hormones, whatever. But modern civilised society must eventually find an equitable way to handle the problem of excess male criminality, aggressiveness, and economical power. Putting a price on it makes it stand out more clearly against the background of nebulous, well-meaning generalities.