If you live or work in California, chances are you’ve already heard of this. For the rest of you, listen up, because if The Marin Institute has its way, the next nickel could be your own.
What the Marin Institute is applauding, and promoting, is Gov. Schwarzenegger’s new nickel per drink tax on beer, wine and spirits, expected to raise more than $878 million over 2009 to “help reduce the state's budget shortfall while providing critical support to programs that reduce alcohol-related problems,” according to The Institute’s self-congratulatory press release.
That this self-styled “alcohol industry watchdog” is celebrating the new tax is no surprise, but the scary part is that they want to expand the base to include every state in the union. From a quick follow-up Marin Institute release:
Now, I’m not one of those no-tax loonies who thinks that we should all live in some sort of anarchic, self-reliant utopia – I believe that government provides much-needed social services for which we should all, as a community, pay. But that’s precisely my point: We should ALL pay. Not just you or me, not just the drinkers, not just the smokers; all of us.
The specious argument always trotted out by anti-alcohol forces like The Marin Institute is that the negative effects of alcohol create a social expense for which drinkers should pay, hence the reference to “alcohol-related problems” above. But obesity and pollution are also a financial drain on society, arguably much more so than drinking, so where are the fatty food and smog taxes? Why don’t we tax donuts and SUVs, for instance? Burgers and the charcoal-fired grills they’re cooked on? And so on.
I admit that some people abuse alcohol and in so doing become a drain on the system, or drink irresponsibly and cause accidents, property damage, personal injury or even death, but they are a small percentage of drinkers as compared to the rest of us. And I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument as to why I should pay for their mistakes, or you should help balance the state budget when your teetotalling neighbor gets a free ride.