Have you heard the news? So-called “sin taxes” —particularly those on alcoholic beverages— are being rebranded as “health taxes.” It’s true.
I am happy that we may finally cast aside the term “sin taxes,” a label that oozes moralism. Really now, am I offending the Lord by sipping Negronis with my wife? Is it an outrage on human dignity for me to hoist a rare Tennessee whisky with a friend? Heck, the Man in the Clouds might well have gotten a laugh out of me quaffing plonk with Charo years ago. (Cuchi! Cuchi!)
I’d venture to say that when I purchase a fine bottle of spirits I am doing good for my fellow man. My purchase flows funds to the retailer who sold me the bottle, and the distiller who produced it. And, of course, the distiller —anticipating my sale— had to pay the farmer for the grain, the bottle-maker for the vessel, the paper manufacturer for the label, and his employees. Then there are the truckers who earn a good wage hauling the hooch to the shop. And this is to say nothing of the benefit conveyed to the maker of stills, the builder of barrels and shipping pallets, and so forth.
Thus, I will not drop a tear if we bid farewell to the name “sin tax.”
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other public health advocates think sin taxes should be called and viewed as “health taxes.” Certain activities and products, like gambling and booze, issue “externalities” that are born by the community collectively. They say the overwhelming evidence indicates that higher taxes on alcohol and other vices will reduce excessive consumption and the associated health costs. Continue reading “The Problem(s) With Sin Taxes”