OK.. time to rant a bit and get this off my chest.
I'm a little ticked at Gov Dayton's plan to raise cigarette taxes yet another .94 per pack. I understand we need to balance the state budget, and I'm fully cognizant of the fact that a so called "sin tax" does make a difference. The problem is that this ties back to our FORMER Governor "One Term SHOULD HAVE BEEN" Pawlenty. Those of us here in MN will recall his infamous "Health Impact Tax" that he assessed on us smokers a few years ago. This of course was brought to court and ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL. So, what does the little bastard do? Changes the NAME to a "Health Impact FEE" and LEAVES the damn thing in place and we've been paying it ever since!
I'm aware of the fact that smoking is a lifestyle choice. I'm also aware of the "secondhand smoke argument, so we can largely skip that for this piece.
The question becomes what "Sin Tax" SHOULD be assessed? The most GLARING one is also a lifestyle choice, but this one has more impact on lives lost, property damaged every year, and medical costs that ANY smoker could ever do. Obviously I'm referring to alcohol, yet NOONE ever seems to bring up that prospect as a budget fix. Why is this? The claims always heard are "oh it's a poor people tax", yet we always seem to have available cash for partying. Bars/taverns in general do MORE business when the economy is bad!
Bad day at work? We drink.
Argument at home? We drink.
Escaping and unwinding after work? We drink.
It's a methodology of escaping from our problems, yet how many people are killed in drunk driving accidents weekly? monthly? Yearly?
Noone seems to bring up raising the costs though because it's JUST as big a sin as smoking is- perhaps more! I can guarantee you a hell of a lot more people drink across the country than smoke. Think about that for just a moment and you'll admit its true.
How many state and federal budgets can be balanced across the country with even a MODEST increase in this sin tax?
More importantly this has merit across both party lines. Drinking has no political affiliation.
You may just start saving peoples LIVES by cutting drunk driving down, and is this not a laudable goal?