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.