Monday, June 18, 2007

Warning: Rant about Taxes and Illogical Funding

This rant is about a proposed new (additional) cigarette tax. To be honest I must tell you that, yes, I am a smoker, so I have a personal interest in this.

Let me set the stage. Cigarettes have always been taxed. I do not know where or how the 'original taxes' are spent. I can only hope they are spent appropriately. The newest tax that has already been applied to cigarettes was presented to the public as a way to deter smoking, which is bad for a person's health. 'The more expensive the cigarettes, the more likely people will be willing to drop the habit' was the logic used. Kind of like a do-gooder's exhortion. "Its for their own good." And to sweeten the pot, it was also stated that the increased revenue would be used to provide health care for low-income families. Can you say "awwww." Look.... a tax that will do good. (You'll notice, no one is investigating why health insurance and health care is so expensive in the first place. This is why small businesses can not afford to cover employees.)

Over the last few years, the Oregon Health Plan has had to eliminate coverage for some things and reduce the 'children' who are covered because the needed budget was not met by the revenue source. Why? Because less people were smoking. So, success on one hand (reduce smokers) and failure on another (less tax revenue).

(I know some people started getting black market cigarettes, but I don't know how many it was, so I cannot determine how much of an impact it was on revenue. But these people are getting busted and my guess would be its not that high in comparison to the overall cigarette consumer count.)

Over half of the cost of a pack of cigarettes is for taxes already. Now they want to add another $.85 to each pack in additional taxes. So perhaps it will be 2/3 of the cost will be for taxes.

My rant is that THIS IS NOT A STABLE FUNDING SOURCE. What are they going to do as more and more people quit either by choice or because they can't afford it. And doesn't this smack a little of discrimination? The revenue was under budget last year and its going to continue to be under budget in the future. What are they going to do.... add additional kids to the plan and then disqualify them later? End up only covering blood pressure checks and asprin? Where is the logic in this? Its a yo-yo now. Now you're covered, now you're now. Now we cover this procedure, now we don't.

And my biggest complaint... the majority of people paying this tax do not qualify for the health plan. Isn't that something like taxation without representation? There is something not right about it. This is not a fair tax. The last time they tried to add additional taxes to alcohol, I felt it was unfair. And I don't drink. (I don't think the new tax passed on the alchol. I remember being surprised. Too many drinkers in government??)

If government needs to raise more taxes, then legalize marijuanha/weed (I never could remember how to spell that word), and keep all production and distribution under state control. Not only would there be increased revenue from taxes AND sales, there would be additional jobs created. These people, in turn, would be paying income taxes, etc. It also takes a product out of the hands of drug dealers.

If alcohol is a legal drug, then why not weed, which is less physically harmful. Cigarettes are a legal product. We're told it causes cancer and its so bad even second-hand smoke causes cancer. (Lets not talk about the bad gasoline we're stuck with that causes cancer... you know, because everyone knows ALL cancer comes from cigarettes. And they're still a legal product.) Legalizing weed would also eliminate the quacks who run medical-mari...-card mills for pure profit. That would just be a side benefit.

Bottom line, an additional cigarette tax is not a dependable source of revenue.

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