Thursday, April 9, 2009
SIN TAXES SHOULD BE FOR SINNERS, NOT REGULAR PEOPLE
SIN TAXES SHOULD BE FOR SINNERS, NOT REGULAR PEOPLE A sin tax is a euphemism for a sumptuary (designed to regulate extravagent expenditures or habits especially on moral or religious grounds) tax. Cigarettes are not an extravagence ( they are a addictive habit) and they are not prohibited on moral or religious grounds. So why do cigarette smokers keep getting taxed more and more when we do not fall into either of those categories? The federal cigarette-tax rate, which on April 1 spiked from 39¢ to $1.01 per pack, is really a regressive tax in nature and discriminates against the lower classes, since those people are more likely to be consumers of tobacco and more likely to consume a greater quantity of it. ( This is not a biased statement, but a fact.) But nonsmokers should beware: If you eat meat or fast food, drive a car, play video games, use the Internet, watch TV or have any other such "sinful" hobby, you too might soon be the target of the sin tax man. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is lobbying for a 10 cent per pound tax on all meat. The Sierra Club has lobbied in New Mexico for a tax on video games and televisions. In 2005, the mayor of Detroit proposed a 2 percent tax on fast food sales. These are all legal products used in legal activities. Why single them out for extra tax? Because they are easy groups to target! I sometimes feel I need to hire a personal lobbyist like the penny has (see earlier blog) to watch out for MY interests. Alcohol once was illegal, but was re-legalized (and, of course, taxed) shortly after. If the goal really were to discourage smoking, tobacco would be declared illegal to possess. In reality, the goal is not to moderate these vices, but for the government to get their slice of the pie. The politicians' ideal sin tax is high enough to pay above and beyond the “negative aspects” of the vice, but not so high that people will actually quit the vice in question. After all, it would be awfully inconvenient for a government that profits from these "sin" transactions to kill the goose laying the golden eggs. Even though we know the smoking will kill those of us soon enough. I have a simple solution. Make prostitution legal in the United States and then tax it very heavily. Then we would have revenue from a REAL Sin Tax!