… as long as you aren’t taxing my sins of choice. There is an old saying that, “if you want less of something, tax it.” That is the rationale for “sin taxes,” high taxes on things like cigarettes and booze, although there are “sins” we like, such as gambling. So why the rant today?

The Republican governor’s plan calls for covering at least 120,000 low-income adults by hiking cigarette taxes by at least 25 cents per pack. It is one of six or more proposals being considered by the Democrat-controlled House as it wrestles with how to provide insurance to the estimated 850,000 Indiana residents who now lack it.

Our governor is attempting to push through his version of an “extort Peter to pay for Peter’s eventual costs on society” tax scheme. On the surface it seems like we’re trying to kill two (good) birds with one (questionable) stone: find a way to fund an insurance for those who don’t have it (good) and lower the amount of folks who smoke (good). As a way of changing people’s behavior, it’s a start, I guess. We’ve been waging our war on smokers for a long time. You can tell it’s a real war because we haven’t “officially” declared war on them. They just woke up one day under siege and treated like second class citizens. They can no longer smoke in restaurants (because we apparently decided that restaurants were making too much money). But like I said, just don’t attack MY sins. I’m not a smoker and I appreciate being able to breathe free in restaurants, so I’m not complaining too loudly. The government hasn’t come for me. Yet.

Actually, we might as well raise the price of cigarettes a dollar a pack. A quarter isn’t going to deter anyone, not even that fifteen year old who is thinking about picking up the habit (and isn’t that who we do these things for? The children?). The smokers I know would pay the extra dollar, because they’re addicted. And it’s the state’s role to exploit the addicted and the ignorant (need I mention the lottery thing again?)

It becomes harder and harder to call myself a Republican because I’m not seeing any clear delineation between the parties much anymore. If we’re against taxes, we should want to see taxes go down across the board wherever we can. What happened to “the desire to return power and control of our economic resources to the grass roots people of this country. THAT is our agenda. It is not a money agenda. It is the moral agenda of self-government.”? What happened to seeing taxes as a moral issue, governmental racketeering and money laundering with tax cuts merely the State giving us back the money we’ve earned?

At this rate, and by this rationale, I’m surprised that the government hasn’t legalized “soft” drugs, like marijuana, and prostitution if only to tax them. Those would seem to be consistent with this line of thinking. I’m sure it won’t stop there. Frankly, I keep waiting on the transfat tax, especially in the land of State Fairs. Come on, right now there are redneck scientists in their basements trying to deep fry something new to debut this year (we’ve had deep fried Twinkies, chocolate covered strawberries, moon pies. However, I’m here to testify, deep fried Snicker bars will be served in heaven.)

However, in the final analysis, nothing is free. Not health care, not education, not any of the things that government has to do. And the money has to come from somewhere. In the ideal system, everyone would pay their fair share. In our world, we seem to want more from those who have more (the rich) and those who “benefit” more from the system (the poor). Nothing about that seems particularly fair to me. But hey, I’m in the middle somewhere and you aren’t taxing my sins. Yet.

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