What's next? Failure-to-floss tax?
written by Bill:
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Here on the state line between Wisconsin and Illinois thereís celebration
in the air this week, among those who believe the full power of government should be brought to bear against individuals whose behaviors
fall outside the bounds of officially approved proprieties.
in the way of steep taxes, has arrived for unwelcome behavior.
Wisconsin, smokers will be assessed another 75 cents per pack in cigarette taxes. That makes Wisconsin the fifth-highest taxing state
for tobacco products. The new revenue is estimated at $335 million, with all tobacco taxes for Wisconsin amounting to approximately
$1.5 billion over the two-year budget cycle.
taxes went up this week for candy, soda pop and liquor. Thatís supposed to raise some $150 million a year in new state revenue.
message is fairly clear. The politicians frown on people who smoke, people who drink, and people who are chubby.
know. Thatís why collections like these are called ďsinĒ taxes.
I am aware that smoking and boozing and gobbling up fatty calories from candy and pop are unhealthy habits that can contribute to
illnesses or premature death and, theoretically, cost society more for health care costs.
Iím also aware that government is just as hooked on smoking and drinking as the users themselves. Does government really want smokers
to stop lighting up, or beer drinkers to switch to tap water?
that happened, government budgets would hemorrhage red ink and the tax collector would knock on every door looking for other new sources
of money. Itís not an exaggeration to say government needs smokers to smoke, drinkers to drink, and chubsters to slurp soda.
folks, letís stipulate the obvious: People should not smoke. Or drink to excess. Or consume sweet candies and syrupy drinks that just
pack on the pounds.
They also should not eat too many cheeseburgers.
Or barbecued ribs. Stay away from those Friday fish frys ó thatís a Wisconsin thing, by the way, for all the readers uninitiated in
the strange ways of the frozen Northland. Frosted cakes and doughnuts and French fries are bad, too. And look out for those preservatives;
only whole, organic alternatives should be consumed. Of course, donít forget to exercise. By the way, get rid of that clunker and
drive to the gym in a hybrid vehicle.
And if you fail to pay
attention and correct that unsavory behavior, well ... donít be surprised if the friendly tax man eventually comes calling.
matter, if folks do pay attention and tax revenues from cigarettes or liquor or gasoline subsequently decline, expect the tax man
to come calling anyway. After all, government must get its money from somewhere. Maybe the disgusting guy sucking on a cigarette actually
has been doing you a favor.
Do you suppose this is what the
Founding Fathers had in mind, a society in which bossy-sassypants politicians determine which behaviors are or are not officially
approved? And do you suppose the Founders wanted the coercive taxing authority used to enforce governmentís version of appropriate
I promise ó I am not carrying water for the
tobacco companies or any other commercial interest. Healthy is best. Iím a reformed ex-smoker, and we can be the most militant when
it comes to avoiding smoky places.
But personal choice
ó some might even say liberty ó counts for something in this country, too.
at least, it used to, in the days when Americans really believed there should be limits on how much government can intrude into everyday
Call it the right to privacy. Call it the right to be
Oppressive behavioral taxes. Where does it
end? A failure-to-floss tax, anyone?