Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Letter on Beer Taxes

I saw a letter to the editor in the Inquirer a few days ago about increasing beer taxes. Here's what he said, in part: "In the interest of increasing state revenues, Gov. Rendell should substantially increase taxes on alcoholic beverages, especially beer. Most politicians are afraid to tackle this issue, because of the "macho man" ripple it may cause..."

I hate beer taxes (and liquor taxes, and wine taxes, and all such excise taxes that tax narrow groups based on consumption), especially when they lean on the whole "sin tax" thing, which this guy did: "...the state also would be helping to save lives." Really? The numbers are -- surprise! -- pretty damned vague on that, though they are pretty clear that to "save lives," beer taxes would have to go up by a lot more than the PA legislature is likely to raise them.

So I wrote a response, and they printed it today. Here's the conclusion, the real heart of the argument: "Push the state income or sales tax up half a percentage point, or cut spending, but don't balance your problematic budget on my beer-drinking back. It's not about being macho. It's about fairness, and not asking beer drinkers to pay your share."

Always nice to be heard.

6 comments:

Bill said...

I like it that you push back on this stupid idea that government programs should be funded by a tax on seemingly related activities.

Can we pay for prisons by taxing crime? Can we pay for schools by taxing homework? Can we fund the legislature by taxing lawmaking?

Rich said...

I don't necessarily have a problem with the "sin" taxes, however, our legislature needs to find an alternative to increasing revenue. They are too quick to pull the trigger on increasing sin taxes as an easy fix, and it is only a bandaid. How about reducing government programs and spending before raising ANY taxes?

Justin said...

Agreed with Rich. We already have sin taxes in place, and I can't see them ever being lowered and/or removed altogether. They are indeed seen as a quick fix, whether its cigarettes or booze.

If the state bureaucracy is anywhere near as inefficient as that in Philadelphia, there is certainly a lot of fat that can be trimmed to reduce costs and increase efficiency, before raising any taxes.

Jeff Alworth said...

Oregon's fighting an annual battle against a beer tax hike, too. We are mid-roar in response. Fight the power, Lew!

Lew Bryson said...

True, Jeff, but you're fighting crazy people!

Brad said...

Good stuff, Lew.