The toilet tax

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Benjamin Franklin's pithy assertion that life's certainties are limited to death and taxes is one card shy of a royal flush: Nature's call will certainly continue to be heard by all of mankind for as long as there is a mankind.

Venice -- -- the real one in Italy as opposed to the bizarre Los Angeles mockup -- -- has decided to impose a toilet tax on visitors every time they use a public restroom. Slapping a duty on that most basic process of elimination makes good economic sense. By making your business their business, the Canal City has found a surefire revenue stream that will continue to fill the City's coffers until the last Starbucks has sold its last latte. And even for an extra hour or so after that.

The tariff, first levied in September, represents a mere drop in the bucket for tourists. At 1,000 lira, or roughly 50 cents per bathroom visit, it kind of transforms an activity that tourists had taken for granted for so long into one of Europe's few remaining bargains.

So next time you're looking for cheap entertainment in Italy's sinking pile of bricks, well, now you know where to go.

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