Sunday, February 27, 2005

Let's raise taxes on alcohol

Why don't we raise taxes on alcohol in the same manner as we have on cigarettes?

Opponents of cigarette smoking cite various reasons for taxing them. Among these are the deaths of smokers and the corresponding health care costs. They also cite the health of non-smokers and their health care costs.

Well, what about alcohol?

How many people are killed each year in alcohol related accidents?
How many people are injured each year in alcohol related accidents?
What is the cost to the American public as a result of alcohol related accidents? Lost jobs? Lost wages? Lost business production? Property damage?

Now, let us move on to other problems associated with alcohol. We won't even touch on personal health costs. But what about domestic violence? How many individuals kill, or injure domestic partners while drunk? How many other crimes are committed while a person is drunk. How many other acts of violence (other than domestic) are committed as the result of alcohol consumption.

So, why isn't alcohol taxed at the same rate as cigarettes?

That is easy to answer. The liquor industry, restaurant associations, hotel/motel associations, tourist associations would be up in arms. And the politicians (the various state legislatures) do not have the intestinal fortitude (or the willingness to be on these groups "hit lists").

Can you imagine what would happen if a major convention hotel had to charge $10-$15 for a glass of beer? They would be up in arms. That is what would happen if those taxes were raised proportionately. They would scream that they could not attract convention and/or tourist business. Or if an individual took their partner out to dinner at a modest restaurant and had to pay $12 for a glass of wine? Or if that six pack of beer cost $18-$25? Wow, that would put a damper on Sunday afternoon TV viewing of football games.

Alcohol abuse costs this country tens of billions of dollars a year...........but so what? It's easier to pick on smokers.

For those politicians who claim they are concerned about people's health, go after cigarettes, but not after alcohol, are hypocrites of the first order.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Howard Dean

Most major media outlets seem to think that next Saturday, Howard Dean will be elected as Democratic National chair.

This makes me think, "what if?".

What if Dean had run against Bush? Would he have won? Would it have been an even closer election?

Dean did show a few things during the run up to the caucuses and primaries:
  • An ability to gnerate personal enthusiasm
  • An ability to make effective use of the internet
  • An ability to "click with" young voters

Hindsight may be 20/20.............but I think Bush would have had a tougher go of it if Dean had been the Democratic Party's nominee.

Cigarette Taxes in Kansas

As most folks who live in Kansas know, we pay a tremendous amount of taxes on cigarettes.
Naturally, the anti-smoking element thinks this is great.

In reality, smokers pay a disproportionate share of taxes to the state. About one year ago I emailed my state rep and suggested that additional items be taxed, at the same rate as cigarettes.

Just think about how much money the State of Kansas would get if:
  1. $50 designer jeans became $200 - $250
  2. $125 designer athletic shoes became $500 - $625
  3. $12 family pack of toilet tissue became $48 - $60
  4. $8 can of coffee became $32 - $40
  5. 75¢ candy bar became $3 - $3.75
  6. $4 pair of pantyhose became $16 - $20

Recently, the State of New Jersey imposed a 6% tax on elective cosmetic surgery. Their theory being that if someone can afford to pay for body enhancements (tummy tucks, liposuction, nose jobs, face lifts, breast augmentation) then these folks can pay an extra 6% to be used for state health programs. Cosmetic surgery that is needed as the result of injury or health matters (a person's face is shattered in an accident, a woman loses a breast to cancer, etc) are specifically exempted from the tax.

Now, the States of Washington and Illinois are considering the same tax.

I believe that the State of Kansas needs to consider going this route also.


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