Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mainers take beer tax increase to the polls

Maine's legislature recently raised the state tax on beer and wine, and added a "soda tax" on soda syrup and bottled soda. They were looking for funding for the Dirigo Health Program, a medical coverage plan for Maine's uninsured. They ran into problems raising the tax on cigarettes and putting taxes on snacks, so lumped the whole thing on beverages.

Now they've got a tax revolt on their hands. Mainers are going to the polls today and are faced with petitions to put voter initiatives on next year's ballot. Among the eleven facing them is one to repeal the drinks tax increase. Opponents are painting the petition as kicking the uninsured out of hospitals into the street, all for a cheaper glass of beer. They're also crying because the beverage tax petition makes no proposals for replacing the tax revenue.

Let's leave the controversy over Dirigo out of this; I'll just mention that there is controversy, and that, well, it's Maine and I don't fully understand it. Let's say Dirigo is indeed a good idea, which helping poor people in desperate need for health care usually is. If it's such a good idea, why couldn't the Maine legislature summon up the political support for a broader-based tax to fund it? A bump in the state sales or income tax? Why put it on the back of beer and wine drinkers, soda drinkers?

Why, because everyone knows that the folks who drink booze are all alcoholics and a drain on the state's medical resources. And everyone knows that soda-drinking leads to obesity and a drain on the state's medical resources. Why does everyone know this? Because the people who make a living off screaming about this have told them. Not that they'd be biased, or maybe present things in a slanted way to support their case...

Here's my view, the same as always. If Dirigo is a good idea for Maine, for all of Maine, then all of Maine should help pay for it. If the anti-tax petition makes no proposals for that, well, don't blame them, blame the legislature for using excise taxes when they should know better. Excise taxes on anything suck. They are inherently unfair. If I'm going to be taxed, it's only fair that I know everyone is being taxed; not at the same rate, but taxed.

So I'd tell Mainers to sign the anti-tax petition, then go home and write their legislators. Tell them that if they want Dirigo funded, man up and put it on the backs of all of Maine. Not just the people who like a drink.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I bet the money raised from taxing bevs will remain in a "lock box" just for these poor uninsured folks. Nope just as with taxing Evil Tobacco - the politico whores will use it for every thins besides the intended purpose. Hell maybe they will build a play pen for a major sports team in maine!LOL

Anonymous said...

No offense to you, but I just do not understand why so many people have to be drunk in this country. It seems like if you are not a "drinker", then society looks down on you. Why?

I am 35 years old, never drank and have no desire to. I live in Maryland, a state that denies anyone to smoke in public, even considering a ban on smoking in your own home yet you can drink til the cows come home. I was at a restaurant where the manager received a complaint about a smoker standing outside the entry so he called the police and they made the person leave the property. Yet during the same visit to this place [Fuddruckers in Columbia], they sell beer to anyone who has the money. There are open containers of beer on pretty much every table in the place on a weekday afternoon. This drinker [aka: loser], he got up to go to the bathroom, and while gone, two kids maybe 11 or 12 years old walked up and drank from that bottle of booze.

During my visit there, this same person drank 2 beers and looked like he had some before getting to the restaurant too. When I complained to the guy and the manager, everyone acted as if I was from another planet. Like nothing is wrong with everybody getting boozed up and stumbling around and allowing minors to have free access to illegal products.

It seems to me that america is seriously flawed in their values now, we have major issues going on currently including a "depression" hitting the economy, jobs being lost daily, shitty healthcare standards, and so much more. Yet our leaders are focused on blocking marriage to those that want it, are entitled to it, etc. I bet a guy could marry his keg of beer though if he wanted to!!!

In closing, I just don't get it. Want is the fascination with drinking.......is life that sad that everyone would rather be lost in a liquor fog that to face realty and deal with life 1-on-1.

Lew Bryson said...

Not that you'll come back, Anonymous on 12/31...but I left you an answer: http://lewbryson.blogspot.com/2008/12/why-we-drink.html