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Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004

Time Event
10:38a
Let's tax excessively a small, marginalized group that has no voting power
My thoughts on the imminent cigarette tax hike:

When your state has a 1 billion dollar budget deficit, you definitely have to raise taxes somehow. But increasing a $1.25/pack cigarette tax to $2.00/pack, which would raise an estimated 295 million dollars, does not seem like a fair way to do that to me. Why should nearly a third of the state's budget deficit fall on the shoulders of a minority population (I believe about 20% of Michiganders smoke)? Smokers are already marginalized and overtaxed. Lawmakers have looked at the polls: the non-smokers will love us if we tax the hell out of cigarettes! Who cares about the votes of smokers?

I may be making too many assumptions, but I also think a lot of smokers are poor. They don't have enough money to begin with and they are addicted to nicotine, so why not make them pay 75 cents more a day?

I think the burden of the budget deficit should fall to everyone, not just a small group. Apparently, the voting public likes sin taxes. Why not tax beer, wine, liquor, coffee? Why not tax SUVs or gasoline? Why pick on smokers again?

Because they're an easy target, that's why.

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An afterthought:
The decision to raise the cigarette tax will be popular, democratic, and morally wrong.

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Another afterthought:
If we decided to legalize marijuana and sell it through state-regulated channels while imposing a severe tax, I wouldn't mind that at all. What's the difference?

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