This is getting abusive.
As a mostly former smoker, which is to say we spend 22 hours a day not smoking, the hardworking staff must protest the latest surge in repressive taxation of the specially nicotined.
Start with the current Massachusetts revenue-raising scheme, as reported by the Boston Globe:
Top lawmakers offer $500m finance program with narrower aims than Patrick’s $1.9b agenda
Beacon Hill leaders Tuesday announced a $500 million transportation finance plan that would raise gas, tobacco, and business-related taxes to put the MBTA and regional bus systems on firmer financial footing, but does not fund any of the ambitious transit projects put forth by Governor Deval Patrick . . .
The House-Senate plan calls for raising the state gas tax by 3 cents, and indexing the rate to inflation beginning in 2015, to bring in $110 million a year. That increase, legislators said, would cost the average driver $12 to $30 per year. Taxes would be increased on cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco to raise an additional $165 million annually.
Most notably, a $1-per-pack increase in the cigarette excise tax.
Now cut to the national scene, via the Wall Street Journal:
Smokers Burned in Revenue Hunt
The White House, hunting for new ways to raise tax revenue without again increasing income-tax rates, said it would seek significant new tobacco levies and limits on large retirement-savings accounts . . .
The boost in federal taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products would fund a new initiative for pre-kindergarten education for lower-income children that President Barack Obama announced earlier.
As usual with tobacco tax hikes, it’s all about the kids.
But, really, why do smokers – many of whom, as the Journal points out, are “at the lower end of the income scale” – have to bear the burden of funding these goo-goo initiatives?
Why not drinkers, for example?
(Fun fact to know and tell: In 2007, excise tax increases on cigarettes totaled $3 billion. Excise tax increases on alcohol? $3 million.)
The answer is simple: 80% of Americans don’t smoke, so they couldn’t give a damn how much smokers are shaken down.
But, by that logic, how about a tax on lefthanders, who constitute about 10% of the American population?
Even better, how about a different kind of sin tax?
Maybe a syntax.
Fine the grammatically challenged one dollar for every misplaced modifier, sentence fragment, or split infinitive.
That would wipe out the national debt in, oh, 48 hours.