|These are taxed.|
For those who don't remember, Massachusetts had a brief-but-bitter affair with alcohol taxes, which were ultimately overturned in early 2011 by voters, who apparently think that alcohol, as a sort of consumable, should be taxed like food (not at all) rather than a vice (a lot). I voted against repealing the alcohol tax in 2010, and I still oppose it now. It's not because I think we should deter drinking, either. I'm not sure cost is much of a deterrent. If it were, people would stop using cocaine rather than living their own private Less Than Zero lives. Rather, the reason support taxing alcohol is that you don't need it to live or be a citizen. In Massachusetts, in the tradition of the Commonwealth's founding, we do not tax food, clothing, or periodicals. As such, one can be fed, clothed, and informed without paying the state anything. The consumption of alcohol (which I'm a huger fan of than I should be) provides no benefits to any of these natural or civic necessities.
|These are not taxed. |
See what I'm saying?
At this point, I want to discourage readers from drawing the conclusion that I'm arguing that we should repeal taxes on books or houses. I am not doing that. I don't like paying taxes, but I do like infrastructure. I went to public schools, I use public roads and public transportation, and I'm a big fan of having police and fire departments readily available. I'm arguing in favor of equal treatment, or at the very least, treatment based on societal benefits. Raising cigarette prices through taxes didn't cause convenience stores to close, nor did banning their sale at pharmacies cause pharmacies to close. On the contrary, Downtown Boston actually got a pharmaceutical super store after that ban (which is stupid, but certainly implies at least one pharmacy chain isn't struggling from the pressure of lost cigarette revenues). Books are beneficial and they are taxed. Alcohol is decidedly not beneficial, or at least no more beneficial than board games, iPads, or purses, and yet it carries no tax.
To extrapolate on this further. Clothing isn't taxed. Accessories are. You do need pants. You don't need a briefcase. To the same effect, you do need a sandwich. You do not need a beer.
As it currently stands, the people of Massachusetts' voices were heard, and as a result, we have a totally arbitrary exemption on one vice while another is taxed excessively. Moreover, items of higher value to society are taxed, while one that is protected by special interests who effectively lobbied on its behalf. This was a mistake and it should be remedied. Pass a new tax on alcohol.