Sin Tax Tyrannies

There’s an interesting opinion piece at the Christian Science Monitor by Patrick Fleenor, who’s the chief economist for the Tax Foundation. It’s called The Tyranny of Taxing ‘Sin’. There’s some good stuff there, but here’s my favorite part:

Fleecing the minority is made much easier by an army of busybodies who make a comfortable living feeding “studies” to the media, proclaiming that Americans eat the wrong foods, drink the wrong beverages, don’t exercise enough, and are generally sinful. These modern-day Carrie Nations’ denunciations of nearly every commonplace pleasure — from Girl Scout Cookies to movie theater popcorn — are fodder for the nightly news.

To dispel the notion that their sin taxes go too far, the nanny-staters rely on a clever sleight-of-hand: Instead of pitching the tax as a punishment for sin, they claim they’re merely compensating society for costs imposed by bad habits. These claims are often unsupported by science, but many media repeat them without question.

That’s certainly true of the neo-prohibitionists, who keep insisting that vague alcohol-related “stuff” accounts for an enormous cost burden for taxpayers, but the supporting evidence I’ve seen for that is either non-existent or ludicrous at best. Yet the media repeats that endlessly and people comment here trying to asset is as a fact, too.



  1. says


    I’m really of the opinion that this tax stuff if going to cause a lot of problems if it doesn’t get under control. Look at how England has moved more and more toward bitters. They are low in alcohol and are cheap to make. One major reason for this is because of taxation based on alcohol percentage. One thing that I really love about the U.S. is the fact that we have a flat barrel tax on a beer whether it is 5% or 15%. But if some people have their way, we will pay too much tax to begin with and there will be even more on higher alcohol percentage. Higher alcohol equals higher evil, if you will, is the line of thought that we have to be vigilant to watch out for. Some of the proposed hikes are getting out of control.

  2. Gary Frank says

    I agree that moving down this road is bad for the industry and for the consumer. The idea that the proposed tax will resolve any perceived problem is a joke. If a tax caused us to buy less beer the tax rate would have to be increased to keep the money coming in to throw away on useless programs.

    This kind of thought process must be stopped by the people or there will not be cigars, whiskey, or good beers. We will be back in the 60s where a good beer was hard to find. This is a time when we must band together to protect the diversity available to all of us.

    I believe we all pay too much in taxes, perhaps they should spent less rather than tax more.

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