Tax our sins

Over the last few weeks I have been looking at different ways to help solve the deficit we are seeing in New York and around the country.  Today I happened across an article from the New York Times discussing the use of SIN TAXES to generate revenue for states.

From increasing taxes for drinkers and smokers, to porn and soda buyers, these sin taxes (which vary from state to state) are focusing on attacking our many vices to help alleviate the budget issues we are seeing everywhere.

Now this may seem like an admirable tax…think about it, if you have to pay more to get hammered or light up a stog maybe you would think twice about it, maybe we would see a decrease in alcoholism and cigarette smoking. With a tax on soda maybe we can begin to tackle the obesity epidemic that is plaguing our country.   With changes in gambling and strip club patron policies maybe we will help get addicts out of debt and back on their feet.

But as the NYTimes article points out…”Old habits, especially bad ones, die hard.”

I tend to agree with this statement, yes these taxes could have the potential to cause people to make changes in their lifestyles, but with such a small increase in cost it is more likely people will bite the bullet and pay the extra penny-per-ounce of soda or 7 cents per pack of stogs.  Would you even notice if the price went up such an insignificant amount?

Maybe I am just being paranoid, but it seems to me that the government although they are attacking our sins, are not interested in combating them.  Instead it seems like they are using them against us to try and suck more money into the system.  Now I feel that generating revenue this way is much more admirable than cutting education and health care funding, but I always get an uneasy feeling when it seems like the government is trying to hide their intentions behind the mask of a just cause.

Lets be realistic they are not increasing taxes with the hopes people will stop drinking, put out their cigarette, throw that old porno away, and stop giving their kids soda, they don’t want that to happen.  If everyone stopped indulging their bad habits the government wouldn’t know what to do with all the loss in revenue.  These sin taxes are purely a way to generate revenue.

Along with increasing the taxes on already legal vices states around the country have been toying with the idea of legalizing another to help boost money coming in.

The dreaded legalization of marijuana…now I’m not going to go into why I would not dread this legalization or why I think it is ridiculous that people argue against mary-jane (I will save that for another post), but in regardance to this post I will address the idea that by legalizing marijuana (the highest grossing crop in this country) the taxes that states could levy would be a huge benefit to the deficit.

Come on we all know someone who smokes weed, and I would bet my minimal life’s-savings that you couldn’t think of an instance where marijuana caused someone detrimental harm like drinking booze and smoking cigarettes does everyday.

I mean to me this issue seems to be stemmed from the governments need to control illegal substances and keep the stigma of weed being bad in place.  Those against legalization will argue it is a gateway drug, but from my experience watching people slip into the depths of hard-core drug addiction it has always been alcohol that was the catalyst for disaster.

I’m sure I will get heat for what I have said above, but as I mentioned this is from my own personal experience and I would love to hear how your personal experiences shape your point of view.

To me these sin taxes, although they are being masked by purely good intentions, don’t seem like a huge deal being as there are much more important things we should be paying attention to.  Tax our sins, go ahead, its not like it will change what we do.

What do you think?

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