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Doctor Love

Bet you thought Obama's first tax would be on those ultra-wealthy greedy bankers or fat cat oilmen? Sorry, instead it's probably one of the most regressive taxes possible.

http://www.reason.com/blog/show/131518.html

This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue of freedom versus authoritarianism. I am not a tobacco user in any form, but it makes me truly sick when I hear fellow Americans supporting this type of crap because they don't like cigarettes or smokers. HELLO, that's not the point!! It is so disheartening to hear people hopping on the federal tax bandwagon to suck more tax money out of fellow Americans simply because it's a product they do not like. It's sickening. Is there anyone out there anymore that understands and believes in personal freedom?

Head_prosthesis
Hmm, not yet.
Kirk
I don't really care about that , even though I smoke . The money has to come from somewhere .
I'm glad there is no Federal tax on buying groceries . With the amount of debt that Obama has been handed , he better start whirling and twirling .
Steve
Tobacco use directly causes a huge portion of the overall health care costs in the country. It affects society, not just the individual. The money to pay for the health expenses as well as research etc. has to come from somewhere. Since smoking is a choice, people who choose to do it need to share responsibility for the negative consequences that affect everyone.
Doctor Love

When you take into account lifelong safety net payments such as Social Security, etc., I would bet that smokers wind up costing the general public less because they die earlier and faster.

But it is also possible for a smoker to be completely self-sufficient and covered by their own insurance coverage and prevent society from paying a dime for their habit.

The "cost to society" argument is bunk, and that is not why they passed this tax. They passed this tax because they know most people don't smoke and they won't say boo when they see their fellow Americans get screwed.

People are concentrated on the fact that they don't like cigarettes instead of the real issue. It's sad that people are so easily distracted. It's sad that people allow government to turn them against their fellow Americans so easily.

People should be mad that a significant tax has just been passed that not only is regressive in its nature as an excise tax, but is even more regressive due to smoking being inversely related to income.

This is a tax that preys on Americans that are either of poor judgment, low income, or hopelessly addicted. And yet because people don't like cigarettes, they have no problem taxing the crap out of these people.

Are they any less American because they smoke? Of course not. Yet so many here were perfectly willing to go along with an arbitrary 156% tax increase on cigarettes.

What happened to this being a free country and doing what you choose, instead of a bunch of busy bodies using the tyranny of the majority to shove outrageous levels of taxation on a product not used by the majority?

What happened to citizens banding together and demanding government explain itself, instead of evilly turning on their neighbor so long as the tax in question doesn't affect them personally?

So what happened to all the populism I so often hear around here about taxing the rich? That just goes by the wayside when it comes to a product you don't like?
Shabba53
QUOTE(Doctor Love @ Mar 31 2009, 10:51 AM) *

I would bet that smokers wind up costing the general public less because they die earlier and faster.

I think several members here have already posted studies that show otherwise. Treatments for things like heart disease and lung cancer aren't cheap.

QUOTE
But it is also possible for a smoker to be completely self-sufficient and covered by their own insurance coverage and prevent society from paying a dime for their habit.

Being covered by their own insurance isn't being self sufficient. Being self sufficient means that they can self-insure, by having enough money saved up to pay their own medical bills. Insurance rates are based on total claims by members of the insurance pool. The more claims that have to be paid due to smoking related diseases, the more money EVERYONE in the plan has to pay in increased premiums.
Donnie Darko
I bet when they came up with that tax, the exact thing Obama said when talking to Orszag was "Hey, I don't like tobacco. Let's tax the shit out of it. Taxing things we don't like is cool."

Just as tax cuts are used to encourage certain activities that are considered productive, so tax increases are sometimes used to discourage certain activities that are considered destructive.

If living longer is a real problem for the health care industry, and smokers actually save the health care system money in the long run because they die younger, then perhaps we should just kill people once they retire.

In the short term, smokers drive up insurance costs for everyone else, as Shabba pointed out. That's not good for anybody, and should be obvious to everybody. Even if smoking in the long term costs insurance companies less, someone having 2 years of constant very expensive care because of lung cancer or heart disease brought on by smoking drives up costs for everyone in the short term.

Provenance
QUOTE(Doctor Love @ Mar 31 2009, 06:51 AM) *

When you take into account lifelong safety net payments such as Social Security, etc., I would bet that smokers wind up costing the general public less because they die earlier and faster.

There was a study that supported that view. Whether the study would withstand serious scrutiny is a wholly different matter.

http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/phi…mczechstudy.pdf
Donnie Darko
That study looks bullet proof to me. Who better qualified to evaluate the positive effects of smoking than the people who stand to gain the most financially from people smoking?

I stand corrected. Smoking is better for health care than not smoking, and cigarettes should be cheap so poor people can afford their addiction.
Doctor Love
QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Mar 31 2009, 08:44 AM) *
Just as tax cuts are used to encourage certain activities that are considered productive, so tax increases are sometimes used to discourage certain activities that are considered destructive.


Are we all children, do we need mommy and daddy government telling us what we should and should not do? The purpose of taxes is to pay for necessary government expenditures, their purpose is not to impose social dogma by virtue of what politicians think should be encouraged or discouraged.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Mar 31 2009, 08:44 AM) *
In the short term, smokers drive up insurance costs for everyone else, as Shabba pointed out. That's not good for anybody, and should be obvious to everybody. Even if smoking in the long term costs insurance companies less, someone having 2 years of constant very expensive care because of lung cancer or heart disease brought on by smoking drives up costs for everyone in the short term.


Last I checked smokers pay a premium for their health and life insurance policies. But regardless, that entire line of reasoning is bogus anyway. Are we going to start taxing everything because it could potentially have health care costs down the line? How about a 156 percent tax increase on all red meat, on butter, on every fast food restaurant. In fact we better tax all food that doesn't conform with a federally approved food pyramid. Perhaps you'd like the feds to provide you a menu for breakfast lunch and dinner each day? All menu items are tax free! Anything else though, and you better be ready to pay!

That the health of individuals can have such broad impacts on others does not mean we should be raising taxes on products, rather it means we should be reforming our health care system so that people are responsible for their own health.

Moreover, your argument may have a prayer of holding water if these taxes were used to offset the cost of health care for uninsured smokers or something along those lines. But it's not, it's being immediately spent on an unrelated program. That blows a giant gaping hole in the side of your insinuation that this somehow represents a recuperation of costs incurred by smokers. It does not.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Mar 31 2009, 09:01 AM) *
I stand corrected. Smoking is better for health care than not smoking, and cigarettes should be cheap so poor people can afford their addiction.


As if anyone was saying that… typical.
Donnie Darko
QUOTE(Doctor Love @ Mar 31 2009, 12:39 PM) *

The purpose of taxes is to pay for necessary government expenditures


I have a hunch what you define as necessary and what the government defines as necessary are universes apart.

QUOTE
their purpose is not to impose social dogma by virtue of what politicians think should be encouraged or discouraged.


Tobacco is a public health issue that affects not just smokers but non-smokers (i.e. everyone). It's not an issue of "oooh, I don't like smoking, let's tax it", which is a childish oversimplification.
Doctor Love
QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Mar 31 2009, 09:51 AM) *
I have a hunch what you define as necessary and what the government defines as necessary are universes apart.


Of course they are. Government's primary purpose is to expand its own power. My views are that it should burden the people as little as possible.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Mar 31 2009, 09:51 AM) *
Tobacco is a public health issue that affects not just smokers but non-smokers (i.e. everyone). It's not an issue of "oooh, I don't like smoking, let's tax it", which is a childish oversimplification.


It's no more a "public health issue" than is obesity, or high blood pressure, or cancer, or motorcycles. All have a broader cost impact on society. Smoking is only a public health issue because the government makes the public pay for smokers' health care. Calling it a "public health issue" as justification for a substantial tax increase on a single product and then spending the revenues on a new, completely unrelated program is completely illogical and disingenuous. Whether you want to call it a "public health issue" or not is irrelevant, the money is not being spent to offset the costs of that issue, and it is not the government's role to decide the behavior of free citizens.

Phoenix
IPB Image
Patlow
Not to mention what it costs to CLEAN UP after smokers. In Philadelphia, where I live, there are people paid with my tax dollars to do this every day and it never ends.

(And I am NOT anti-smoking, but these things make city streets look like shit. What do they do in Singapore?)
Provenance
sixela
QUOTE(Doctor Love @ Mar 31 2009, 03:51 PM) *

When you take into account lifelong safety net payments such as Social Security, etc., I would bet that smokers wind up costing the general public less because they die earlier and faster.


Gee, I wonder why my health insurance company (for my hospitalisation insurance) actually wants more money to insure smokers.

I'm sure they don't know shit about how markets work or haven't done their homework.
sixela
QUOTE(Doctor Love @ Mar 31 2009, 05:39 PM) *

The purpose of taxes is to pay for necessary government expenditures, their purpose is not to impose social dogma by virtue of what politicians think should be encouraged or discouraged.


That's your view on things. Practice, however, is very different. I haven't seen many libertarian governments, have you?

If you don't confine youself to 20th century democracies, I can assure you that taxes served other purposes than to pay for necessary government expenditures, unless of course the sovereign leaders are free to redefine that term.
absinthist
QUOTE(sixela @ Mar 31 2009, 01:24 PM) *

my hopsitalisation insurance

I'm sure they don't know shit about how markets works or haven't done their homework.

You will be hopsitalizing beers? Nice-whatever that means. What is with you, Sixer? Markets works? Ain't 'markets' a plural?
Patlow
Yeeeeeeees! Thank you, Provenance!
sixela
QUOTE(Doctor Love @ Mar 31 2009, 06:14 PM) *

It's no more a "public health issue" than is obesity, or high blood pressure, or cancer, or motorcycles.

And who says governments shouldn't try to curb these as well? BTW, to show off cancer as "another problem" than smoking is beyond funny.
sixela
QUOTE(absinthist @ Mar 31 2009, 10:31 PM) *

What is with you, Sixer?

This computer only has a Dutch spelling checker. Besides, it wouldn't have caught the grammatical error. I did (before you did), but you were waiting to pounce on me before I could successfully edit.
Donnie Darko
Well, I guess all Dr. Love has to do is illustrate the societal benefits of cigarettes that cost 99 cents a pack and he'll have made his case.

Until then, I think the answer to the title of this thread is Yes.
Jaded Prole
I don't really have a problem with taxing tobacco. Heck, I wish they'd tax weed too instead of wasting billions jailing users.

QUOTE
Yeeeeeeees! Thank you, Provenance!


I'd rather be caned than stuck in jail for years -- not that I'm into being caned mind you but at least its over quickly.
Doctor Love
QUOTE(sixela @ Mar 31 2009, 02:24 PM) *
Gee, I wonder why my health insurance company (for my hospitalisation insurance) actually wants more money to insure smokers.

I'm sure they don't know shit about how markets work or haven't done their homework.


Or it could be you just have difficulties with reading comprehension. I was referring to society overall as a result of a reduced number of social safety net payments, obviously for an insurance company the costs are going to be higher.

QUOTE(sixela @ Mar 31 2009, 02:28 PM) *
That's your view on things. Practice, however, is very different. I haven't seen many libertarian governments, have you?


No, it's the Constitution's view on things. And the United States began with a very limited federal government.

QUOTE(sixela @ Mar 31 2009, 02:32 PM) *
And who says governments shouldn't try to curb these as well? BTW, to show off cancer as "another problem" than smoking is beyond funny.


The Constitution does. It is the contract between government and the people, and recognizes the inalienable human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There is no caveat that says "except for smoking and fast food."

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Mar 31 2009, 04:24 PM) *

Well, I guess all Dr. Love has to do is illustrate the societal benefits of cigarettes that cost 99 cents a pack and he'll have made his case.


The burden of proof is not on me or anyone else to demonstrate why something should NOT be taxed to oblivion, but rather why it should. Especially when the proceeds from this tax are not going to anything related to smoking.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Mar 31 2009, 04:24 PM) *
Until then, I think the answer to the title of this thread is Yes.


You speak for everyone now? Interesting.

QUOTE(Jaded Prole @ Mar 31 2009, 04:35 PM) *

I don't really have a problem with taxing tobacco. Heck, I wish they'd tax weed too instead of wasting billions jailing users.


False dichotomy.
Provenance
QUOTE(Jaded Prole @ Mar 31 2009, 03:35 PM) *
not that I'm into being caned mind you

I prefer playing pirate and the French maid.
OCvertDe
QUOTE(Doctor Love @ Mar 31 2009, 09:11 PM) *


The Constitution does. It is the contract between government and the people, and recognizes the inalienable human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


There still is, it's just going to cost more. So, now people who can't afford the luxury of a Porsche may not be able to afford the luxury of smoking anymore either… as if they could before. frusty.gif
thegreenimp
QUOTE(Provenance @ Mar 31 2009, 09:05 PM) *

QUOTE(Jaded Prole @ Mar 31 2009, 03:35 PM) *
not that I'm into being caned mind you

I prefer playing pirate and the French maid.


The naughty stable boy, and the riding mistress is much more fun.
sixela
QUOTE(Doctor Love @ Apr 1 2009, 02:11 AM) *

No, it's the Constitution's view on things.


Of course. Pity that its lofty goals never got implemented correctly, eh? Until now, that is. I'm sure your kin is going to change that at the next election cycle, though. Or if people don't vote the right way, though, perhaps you'll have to institute the Dictatorship of the Libertariate. Temporarily, of course, until everyone has seen the light.

Libertarians of the World Unite!

Jaded Prole
QUOTE
I prefer playing pirate and the French maid.


Kirk
QUOTE
You speak for everyone now? Interesting.

"cept you.
Donnie Darko
QUOTE(Doctor Love @ Mar 31 2009, 09:11 PM) *

And the United States began with a very limited federal government.


And things were so much better back then, weren't they?

QUOTE
It is the contract between government and the people, and recognizes the inalienable human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There is no caveat that says "except for smoking and fast food."


You don't think an economic discouragement against smoking could actually help someone with their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? Ever seen somebody with emphysema try to go for a nice hike or go swimming or do anything beyond spending most of their life sitting down because they can't get enough oxygen? Ever seen someone wither away from lung cancer at far too young an age and see the suffering it can cause their family? I don't think having cheap cigarettes gave them any more life, liberty or happiness, and I don't think the demise of the person who smoked gave their families a better life, more liberty or more freedom to pursue happiness. And I certainly don't think the medical costs incurred by the smoker gave me more liberty by making my health insurance premiums go up.

Yes, of course personal responsibility plays a big part, but it is common practice in most societies to impose financial penalties for irresponsible behavior, especially irresponsible behavior that affects more than just the irresponsible individual (smoking being a great example) so taxation of cigarettes is hardly remarkable. It is also hardly unconstitutional. But if you think it is feel free to take your case to the Supreme Court, and have them tell you taxation of cigarettes is not unconstitutional.

QUOTE
You speak for everyone now?


So far. Nobody else in this thread has expressed a problem with cigarette taxation aside from you, so I'm merely pointing out the obvious.
Shabba53
QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 1 2009, 09:06 AM) *

Yes, of course personal responsibility plays a big part, but it is common practice in most societies to impose financial penalties for irresponsible behavior

Not just financial penalties. I guess most people would consider murder and theft irresponsible behavior too.

But short of making overeating (which, admittedly, I'm guilty of) and smoking (I enjoy a good stogie) illegal, I think increased taxation isn't a problem.

And by the way Doc, there are plenty of middle and upper class folk who smoke as well. It's not just a 'lower' class habit. The two richest people I know both smoke like chimneys.

I'd actually prefer a consumption tax as opposed to an income tax, but that's a totally different discussion.
Donnie Darko
Since "Doctor" Love, as usual, doesn't support any of his commentary with anything other than more commentary, I'll contribute some illuminating FACTS.

The CDC claims that for every 10% hike in cigarette prices, 3-5% of smokers quit smoking. NYC health officials claim that 20,000 people in NYC alone will quit smoking because of the latest cigarette tax increase. And the latest tax increases will be going to fund State Children's Health Insurance Program and is estimated to give Federally funded health care to an additional 4 million currently uninsured kids, which appears to be less important to Dr. Love than cheap cigarettes.

So put that in your "cigarette taxes suck" pipe and smoke it (tax free of course).
Phoenix
I'm with Doctor Love in the sense that I'm against this tax. I can't say I agree with most of his reasons though.

I suspect if this were a thread about a 156% increase on alcohol taxes, that many here would be singing a different tune.
Donnie Darko
Moderate alcohol consumption is actually advised by physicians for anyone who doesn't have blood clotting problems, and there are numerous clinical studies showing the numerous health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. There are no comparable clinical examples advocating moderate cigarette consumption. And if there were, the tax still wouldn't be such a bad idea since it would encourage moderate cigarette consumption. But there's also still the problem of second-hand smoke, which is now well established as a health threat to the point that even Penn & Teller rescinded their initial attack of second hand smoke worries as "bullshit".

Alcohol abuse of course also has enormous social costs, but there are already penalties to discourage consequences of alcohol abuse in the form of DUI, vehicular manslaughter charges if a person is killed by a drunk driver, public intoxication crimes, open container violations, etcetera.

The two aren't exactly corollaries.

And if 25% of Americans were alcoholics (25% of Americans smoke), I would support much higher alcohol taxes as a means to discourage it. Quite honestly I think higher alcohol taxes would be a fabulous idea in Russia, where the current life expectancy is barely 50 years for men, due largely to widespread alcoholism.
Phoenix
I think there are similarities, and so do the majority of people. Yes there are differences as well, but if you don't see the similarities between the two, then there's really not much left to discuss in that department.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming of DL dogpile.
Shabba53
Can you explain a little more about these similarities?

Smoking doesn't just affect one person, it effects everyone around that person every time they light up. That's aside from the insurance costs argument we've already discussed.

Alcohol might affect others detrimentally as well, but as DD mentioned, there are already civil and criminal penalties in place to punish that.
Donnie Darko
There's also the blatantly obvious point that one is considered healthy in moderation where the other is considered totally unhealthy. It doesn't make much sense to make something that is healthy in moderation unaffordable.

And there's also the point that was ignored about how the cigarette taxes are going to pay for SCHIP. If somebody wanted to put a 10% tax on my bottle of absinthe so kids who didn't have health insurance could get health insurance, you wouldn't hear one peep of complaint from me.
OCvertDe
QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 1 2009, 12:51 PM) *
and there are numerous clinical studies showing the numerous health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.

You wouldn't happen to have links or references for any of these, would you? I'd be interested in reading up.
Donnie Darko
QUOTE(OCvertDe @ Apr 1 2009, 04:16 PM) *

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 1 2009, 12:51 PM) *
and there are numerous clinical studies showing the numerous health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.

You wouldn't happen to have links or references for any of these, would you? I'd be interested in reading up.


http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/89/4/1188

http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(07)01192-8/fulltext

http://www.physorg.com/news156705054.html

http://www.physorg.com/news149793901.html

http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/169/1/96

That's just scratching the surface.
OCvertDe
Awesome, thanks!
Doctor Love
QUOTE(sixela @ Apr 1 2009, 12:38 AM) *
Of course. Pity that its lofty goals never got implemented correctly, eh? Until now, that is. I'm sure your kin is going to change that at the next election cycle, though.


It was implemented just fine, it's just been bastardized over the years by power hungry politicians and ever-growing government.

QUOTE(sixela @ Apr 1 2009, 12:38 AM) *
Or if people don't vote the right way, though, perhaps you'll have to institute the Dictatorship of the Libertariate. Temporarily, of course, until everyone has seen the light.

Libertarians of the World Unite!


Where do you get this babble?

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 1 2009, 06:06 AM) *
And things were so much better back then, weren't they?


In terms of scope of governance, yes. Today isn't looking so hot:

IPB Image

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 1 2009, 06:06 AM) *
You don't think an economic discouragement against smoking could actually help someone with their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness?


You cannot help liberty by denying it.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 1 2009, 06:06 AM) *
Ever seen somebody with emphysema try to go for a nice hike or go swimming or do anything beyond spending most of their life sitting down because they can't get enough oxygen? Ever seen someone wither away from lung cancer at far too young an age and see the suffering it can cause their family? I don't think having cheap cigarettes gave them any more life, liberty or happiness, and I don't think the demise of the person who smoked gave their families a better life, more liberty or more freedom to pursue happiness. And I certainly don't think the medical costs incurred by the smoker gave me more liberty by making my health insurance premiums go up.


I can always count on you for some irrational emotionalism to try to derail an argument. Ever seen someone morbidly obese try to climb the stairs? Ever seen an amputee have to cope with living after surviving a horrific motorcycle accident? Ever see a grieving family after a mountain climber falls to his death? None of these things are justification for arbitrarily taxing an unpopular product and using the proceeds for some unrelated purpose. They are great lessons for people to learn about and perhaps decide that they should not smoke, or eat well and exercise, or wear a helmet and take a safety class, or ensure one's climbing equipment is in good operating order. But these are a matter of peoples' liberty of choice, not a prerequisite for arbitrary and punitive taxation.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 1 2009, 06:06 AM) *
So far. Nobody else in this thread has expressed a problem with cigarette taxation aside from you, so I'm merely pointing out the obvious.


And you don't think anyone perhaps withholds their opinion so they don't get verbally abused because you can't seem to disagree with someone without making personal attacks?

QUOTE(Shabba53 @ Apr 1 2009, 06:53 AM) *
Not just financial penalties. I guess most people would consider murder and theft irresponsible behavior too.


So you're comparing murder and theft to smoking? Come on now…

QUOTE(Shabba53 @ Apr 1 2009, 06:53 AM) *
But short of making overeating (which, admittedly, I'm guilty of) and smoking (I enjoy a good stogie) illegal, I think increased taxation isn't a problem.


Why not? Why do you think arbitrarily and heavily taxing a single unpopular product used only by a minority of citizens is not a problem? Do you not see how that can be, and has been, repeatedly abused?

QUOTE(Shabba53 @ Apr 1 2009, 06:53 AM) *
And by the way Doc, there are plenty of middle and upper class folk who smoke as well. It's not just a 'lower' class habit. The two richest people I know both smoke like chimneys.


Anecdotes are interesting, but the statistics are quite clear in this regard.

http://www.wral.com/news/political/story/4861967/

A Gallup survey of 75,000 people last year fleshed out that conclusion. It found that 34 percent of respondents earning $6,000 to $12,000 were smokers, and the smoking rate consistently declined among people of higher income. Only 13 percent of people earning $90,000 or more were smokers.

Apart from being an excise tax, which obviously represents a higher portion of income of lower earners, it's also regressive as a result of the behavioral reality. So not only is it a broken campaign promise, it's quite possibly the most regressive tax Obama could have imposed.

QUOTE(Shabba53 @ Apr 1 2009, 06:53 AM) *
I'd actually prefer a consumption tax as opposed to an income tax, but that's a totally different discussion.


That makes two of us, but it must be across the board, and there needs to be a matching reduction in income tax to offset it. Obviously, this tax has neither characteristic.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 1 2009, 07:46 AM) *

Since "Doctor" Love, as usual, doesn't support any of his commentary with anything other than more commentary, I'll contribute some illuminating FACTS.

The CDC claims that for every 10% hike in cigarette prices, 3-5% of smokers quit smoking. NYC health officials claim that 20,000 people in NYC alone will quit smoking because of the latest cigarette tax increase. And the latest tax increases will be going to fund State Children's Health Insurance Program and is estimated to give Federally funded health care to an additional 4 million currently uninsured kids, which appears to be less important to Dr. Love than cheap cigarettes.

So put that in your "cigarette taxes suck" pipe and smoke it (tax free of course).


That doesn't illuminate anything Donnie except that it shows you're willing to be authoritarian if you approve of the outcome. Go you.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 1 2009, 09:51 AM) *

Moderate alcohol consumption is actually advised by physicians for anyone who doesn't have blood clotting problems, and there are numerous clinical studies showing the numerous health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. There are no comparable clinical examples advocating moderate cigarette consumption. And if there were, the tax still wouldn't be such a bad idea since it would encourage moderate cigarette consumption. But there's also still the problem of second-hand smoke, which is now well established as a health threat to the point that even Penn & Teller rescinded their initial attack of second hand smoke worries as "bullshit".

Alcohol abuse of course also has enormous social costs, but there are already penalties to discourage consequences of alcohol abuse in the form of DUI, vehicular manslaughter charges if a person is killed by a drunk driver, public intoxication crimes, open container violations, etcetera.

The two aren't exactly corollaries.

And if 25% of Americans were alcoholics (25% of Americans smoke), I would support much higher alcohol taxes as a means to discourage it. Quite honestly I think higher alcohol taxes would be a fabulous idea in Russia, where the current life expectancy is barely 50 years for men, due largely to widespread alcoholism,


The sheer number of drunk driving fatalities alone would be more than ample justification for your style of authoritarianism Donnie. I could write out a few emotionally pleading paragraphs about victims of liver disease, or innocent lives cut short due to intoxicated drivers. That you cite some tertiary benefit from 4oz. of alcohol consumption with dinner as the defining difference between an alcohol and cigarette taxes is just absurd. I'm sure the federal government could come up with a safe and completely tasteless way for you to get your dosage of health-benefiting alcohol, strictly regulated so that you couldn't have more than would be healthy, and as for the rest we should OBVIOUSLY tax it heavily so that 3-5% of people quit abusing alcohol.

The tax code should not be used in place of the criminal code. Punishing people for purchasing a legal product merely because it is unpopular is an abomination, and it's sad the rhetorical gymnastics you will go to defend it.

QUOTE(Shabba53 @ Apr 1 2009, 11:21 AM) *
Smoking doesn't just affect one person, it effects everyone around that person every time they light up. That's aside from the insurance costs argument we've already discussed.

Alcohol might affect others detrimentally as well, but as DD mentioned, there are already civil and criminal penalties in place to punish that.


Really? There are civil and criminal penalties to stop people from being alcoholic assholes? I think not. You don't want to go down the path of making it a contest between cigarettes and alcohol to see which causes more pain and suffering on a societal basis, you really do not.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 1 2009, 11:50 AM) *
There's also the blatantly obvious point that one is considered healthy in moderation where the other is considered totally unhealthy. It doesn't make much sense to make something that is healthy in moderation unaffordable.


And how many people here drink what would be medically considered "moderation" do you think? The net sum of alcohol consumption has far more negatives than positives for society as a whole, and you know it.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 1 2009, 11:50 AM) *
And there's also the point that was ignored about how the cigarette taxes are going to pay for SCHIP. If somebody wanted to put a 10% tax on my bottle of absinthe so kids who didn't have health insurance could get health insurance, you wouldn't hear one peep of complaint from me.


You don't need to wait for them to put a tax on your bottle of absinthe, you can send them money any time you want Donnie. But thanks for bringing up the fact that the revenues from this tax (which is being imposed on a minority of mostly poor Americans), are going to something completely unrelated. It's a wealth transfer from smokers to families with children. And the only reason it's happening is because they know most people won't say a word about it because they don't smoke, and if it doesn't impact them they don't give a shit.
Shabba53
QUOTE(Doctor Love @ Apr 2 2009, 12:33 AM) *

So you're comparing murder and theft to smoking? Come on now…
No, but you can't make an argument about denying freedom without talking about extremes.

QUOTE
Anecdotes are interesting, but the statistics are quite clear in this regard.
What you seem to be neglecting to mention is that this tax is not only on cigarettes. It's on ALL tobacco. While cigarettes might be consumed in larger proportions by middle and lower classes, cigars are more of a middle to upper class consumable, especially those considered 'large cigars', which is where almost all premium cigars sit. While cigarillos (small cigars on the chart) are ebcoming more popular amongst all demographics due to the flavored brands, they are still not as popular as cigarettes for the lower class or the unemployed, and not as popular as premium cigars for those with higher incomes and educations, according to the ACS. Taxes are compared below:

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Donnie Darko
The choices as presented to us by this tax are:
Insure 44 million additional kids via SCHIP
OR
Keep cigarette prices the same, which will not encourage more people to quit and potentially save lots of lives

Anybody who thinks the freedom to kill yourself cheaply is more important than uninsured kids having health care is a fool.
Jaded Prole
QUOTE
There are civil and criminal penalties to stop people from being alcoholic assholes?


Ever hear of "drunk and disorderly" or "public drunkenness"? People get arrested for that all the time.
Kirk
The talk about national debt and big government is hilarious .
When this country was formed a debt was incurred that was much larger in proportion , per capita than it is today . Big Government was forcing farmers and trappers to become States , not everyone was willing .
Donnie Darko
QUOTE(Doctor Love @ Apr 2 2009, 12:33 AM) *


QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 1 2009, 06:06 AM) *
You don't think an economic discouragement against smoking could actually help someone with their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness?


You cannot help liberty by denying it.


Is Liberty anything to you beyond no taxes and small government?

How much liberty does a child have who contracts a chronic illness but whose parents cannot afford health insurance? Is the "liberty" of an affordable pack of cigarettes really more important than the liberty of being able to receive health care if you need it without committing financial suicide?

Bringing up such a vehement opposition to this latest cigarette tax is a dollar short and a day late anyway. Cigarettes have been heavily taxed for quite some time, so why the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth over the latest tobacco tax?

Cigarettes will now cost $10 a pack in NYC. What are the social consequences for that? Are people going without food to get their precious smokes? If so, they are foolish addicts, and we all know what libertarians say about them: "fuck 'em".

Your position is a tempest in a teacup which only resonates with smokers who selfishly would rather cheaply kill themselves and pollute the air around them than subsidize kids health insurance (and also with libertarians who ring an alarm bell at any new tax or tax increase and who are just using this as the latest "the government hates your freedom" rally cry).

QUOTE
I can always count on you for some irrational emotionalism to try to derail an argument.


Since when is there a rule that excludes emotions from an argument? It is never irrational to point out the disastrous health consequences of smoking. Sensitivity to human suffering should never be prohibited from an argument nor should it be excluded as an impetus for public policy. One can be both rational and make an appeal to emotions.

The fact that I have to point out something so obvious to anyone who isn't a Vulcan is depressing.
Phoenix
QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 2 2009, 06:24 AM) *

The choices as presented to us by this tax are:
Insure 44 million additional kids via SCHIP
OR
Keep cigarette prices the same, which will not encourage more people to quit and potentially save lots of lives

Anybody who thinks the freedom to kill yourself cheaply is more important than uninsured kids having health care is a fool.

Well shit, everybody better start smoking now. Think of the children! harhar.gif

If this tax is really about helping to insure children, I think there are better ways to go about doing that. I know from reading the health care thread that you and I (and many others) feel that universal health care is a good thing.
Donnie Darko
I agree that there are better ways to insure kids, but I still see nothing wrong with taxing something that has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be toxic.

The reality is that the money from the tax is going to fund SCHIP, so it's tied directly to the smoking issue in this instance. But even if the tax wasn't going to anything other than general revenues (as is the case with most taxes) I'd still be for it, for reasons I've already explained.

And if one really wants to compare smoking and alcohol, alcohol kills about 75,000 people a year, while cigarettes kill 440,000 people a year, according to the CDC.
Doctor Love

QUOTE(Shabba53 @ Apr 2 2009, 03:57 AM) *
No, but you can't make an argument about denying freedom without talking about extremes.


I disagree. Murder is not extreme freedom because it necessarily violates someone else's rights. You cannot equate criminal aggression with a non-aggressive act such as choosing to smoke, unwise as it may be.

QUOTE(Shabba53 @ Apr 2 2009, 03:57 AM) *
What you seem to be neglecting to mention is that this tax is not only on cigarettes. It's on ALL tobacco. While cigarettes might be consumed in larger proportions by middle and lower classes, cigars are more of a middle to upper class consumable, especially those considered 'large cigars', which is where almost all premium cigars sit. While cigarillos (small cigars on the chart) are ebcoming more popular amongst all demographics due to the flavored brands, they are still not as popular as cigarettes for the lower class or the unemployed, and not as popular as premium cigars for those with higher incomes and educations, according to the ACS. Taxes are compared below:


That's fine but it's a drop in the bucket Shabba, based on the most recent stats I could find, 4 or 5 times as many Americans smoke cigarettes as smoke cigars, and that's not even looking at only the premium cigars. Cigarette smokers tend to smoke more regularly and frequently than cigar smokers as well. It's a matter of sheer volume. The vast majority of smokers in America smoke cigarettes by a wide margin.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 2 2009, 04:24 AM) *

The choices as presented to us by this tax are:
Insure 44 million additional kids via SCHIP
OR
Keep cigarette prices the same, which will not encourage more people to quit and potentially save lots of lives

Anybody who thinks the freedom to kill yourself cheaply is more important than uninsured kids having health care is a fool.


What a stupid false dichotomy. As if the two things have anything to do with each other. Why not tax anything unhealthy then and use it to fund some arbitrary program that you consider to be positive?

It's not a matter of "freedom to kill yourself cheaply," it's a matter of freedom, period.

QUOTE(Jaded Prole @ Apr 2 2009, 04:30 AM) *
Ever hear of "drunk and disorderly" or "public drunkenness"? People get arrested for that all the time.


So what? That wasn't the question anyway. The question are the impacts of alcohol abuse on others and society as a whole. Alcoholic assholes don't need to be causing a public raucous to be having a negative impact on their family, coworkers or others in their life.

QUOTE(Kirk @ Apr 2 2009, 05:55 AM) *
The talk about national debt and big government is hilarious. When this country was formed a debt was incurred that was much larger in proportion, per capita than it is today.


I'm not aware of per capita national debt statistics from 1776, if you have a source for them it would be interesting to see. As far as I know our national debt-to-GDP peak was in 1945 when we were in the WW2 total war scenario. We are beginning to trend toward that level again:
IPB Image

If you think there is anything "hilarious" about that chart when combined with the debt the CBO expects us to incur over the next decade, then you indeed have a sick sense of humor.

QUOTE(Kirk @ Apr 2 2009, 05:55 AM) *
Big Government was forcing farmers and trappers to become States , not everyone was willing.


True, but they were able to do so with a Constitution that guaranteed their rights. It was the law of the land, and it was the contract between the government and the people. Today, "Constitutionality" is an abstract notion that means the lawyers you're having write your legislation have to be extra crafty with their language to sabotage any legal challenges to their overstep.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 2 2009, 06:34 AM) *
Is Liberty anything to you beyond no taxes and small government?


Liberty means liberty. I'm not going to redefine the word to suit my purposes as you seem to be suggesting is perfectly acceptable to do.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 2 2009, 06:34 AM) *
How much liberty does a child have who contracts a chronic illness but whose parents cannot afford health insurance?


Wait, you think liberty means you have the right to receive healthcare? Really?

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 2 2009, 06:34 AM) *
Is the "liberty" of an affordable pack of cigarettes really more important than the liberty of being able to receive health care if you need it without committing financial suicide?


Utter gibberish. Words have meaning, and the word liberty does not mean you get health care for free.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 2 2009, 06:34 AM) *
Bringing up such a vehement opposition to this latest cigarette tax is a dollar short and a day late anyway. Cigarettes have been heavily taxed for quite some time, so why the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth over the latest tobacco tax?


Because I object to most all taxes vehemently, but in this case it is particularly egregious: taxing low income Americans amidst the recession of a lifetime. Utter stupidity.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 2 2009, 06:34 AM) *
Cigarettes will now cost $10 a pack in NYC. What are the social consequences for that? Are people going without food to get their precious smokes? If so, they are foolish addicts, and we all know what libertarians say about them: "fuck 'em".


That's what freedom means Donnie, if they want to smoke instead of eat, that's their God given right.

QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 2 2009, 06:34 AM) *
Your position is a tempest in a teacup which only resonates with smokers who selfishly would rather cheaply kill themselves and pollute the air around them than subsidize kids health insurance.


Versus you, who don't really care if people kill themselves or not, you'd just rather fleece them for a few dollars for another social program that has nothing to do with them. Could you be any more disingenuous? It's selfish to object to arbitrary taxation? What a joke.


QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ Apr 2 2009, 06:34 AM) *
Since when is there a rule that excludes emotions from an argument? It is never irrational to point out the disastrous health consequences of smoking. Sensitivity to human suffering should never be prohibited from an argument nor should it be excluded as an impetus for public policy. One can be both rational and make an appeal to emotions.

The fact that I have to point out something so obvious to anyone who isn't a Vulcan is depressing.


It's when you use emotional appeal to undermine reason that I object Donnie, you're a champion of it. Wise public policy is not based on emotion. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the unintended consequences of emotional legislation are clusterfucktastic.

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