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View Diary: Can Democrats Really Afford To Forfeit The Votes of 46 Million Smokers? (226 comments)

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    •  If It Was Really A Public Health Issue...... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, Eyesbright, Neuroptimalian

      .....the government wouldn't be basing an ever-rising share of its budget on many years worth of cigarette tax revenue expectations.  This is not a public health issue, it's a path-of-least-resistance revenue collection issue.

      •  Not really. It's been pointed out by pundits (14+ / 0-)

        that it can't be that, because the higher you raise the taxes on cigarettes at this point, the fewer taxes you actually collect.  You're already past the 'sweet spot' in re taxation for taxation's sake.  

        •  Well If That's The Case, And It Well May Be..... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril

          ....isn't it budgetary malpractice of the highest order for Obama to pretend he can bankroll universal pre-K on $11 a pack cigarettes? You can't have it both ways.

          •  Yes, it is. Obama's pretense on funding universal (6+ / 0-)

            pre-k that way is at best a way to get it started, and then he'll need to depend upon the outrage of parents if it's threatened with it being taken away to find alternative funding.

            The Republicans are right in smelling a rat on this one, it's a blatant political ploy.

            •  If Obama Doesn't Have The Courage..... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril

              .....to finance this program credibly today, or doesn't believe others will have the courage to do so, why should we believe they will find that courage at some future date?

              •  This is a completely different argument than that (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gustynpip, wu ming, tardis10, terrybuck, ER Doc

                of the diary, but...

                First, he's only going to be in office for 3 more years, so at that point it becomes 'SEP' (Somebody Else's Problem)

                Second, the point I was trying to get across was not a matter of 'courage' (which in itself, when applied to the president, is usually considered a 'trollish' concept on site), but political connivance.  'Courage' doesn't play into the equation at all.  The President wants a useful benefit to the country - Universal pre-K, and knows he can't get it started with the current obstructive Congress unless he can at least pretend to fund it.  So he chooses something he knows won't work long-term, knowing that once it's in place, parents will scream bloody hell at Republicans who try to take it away.  This forces Republicans to fume and accept that it will end up being funded in other ways, which amounts to income taxes.

                •  I Got Your Point...... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kyril, Eyesbright

                  ......but consider it budgetary malpractice, ultimately no different than proposing a major expansion of government without planning to pay for it at all.  I'm sure George W. Bush had the same idea in mind with both wars and Medicare Part D, but it's a ruinous way to govern.

                  And yes, this is a different argument than what I was saying in the diary, but not mutually exclusive.  There are literally dozens of different angles one can take when debating why a never-ending rising tide of sin taxes is horrific politics and horrific public policy.

                  •  It's been proven that higher taxes (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ER Doc

                    make more people quit and less teenagers start. It's the reason I'm quitting, cigarettes are just too damn expensive.
                    Ultimately, that's a good thing.

                    “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

                    by skohayes on Sun May 12, 2013 at 04:05:38 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  That Is Wrongheaded Public Policy..... (0+ / 0-)

                      .....both in the degree of its footprint on the personal autonomy of a supposedly free people....and in financing a government that needs real-world revenue to effectively function, not fantasy-world revenue that politicians say they're hoping never shows up in the first place.

                      •  you should be thanking... (0+ / 0-)

                        ...your lucky stars that you don't get harassed and victimized by the police-state like marijuana users do.

                        consider yourself blessed for being addicted to the substance that is more deadly and doesn't get you thrown in jail.

                        Deficits don't matter, jobs do.

                        by aguadito on Sun May 12, 2013 at 07:06:20 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Yeah I Don't Use Either Tobacco Or Marijuana..... (0+ / 0-)

                          Now that we have the alleged personal interest inference out of the way, I can address your point and give you encouragement for the trendline on marijuana usage, which is clearly trending towards legalization.  Personally, I think the preferred outcome is decriminalization because legalization will be a major disappointment, a means for the tobacco companies to take over production and distribution of all tax-stamped legal pot ("Marlboro Greens") and for government to impose the same steep and predatory taxes on it that it will render all the benefits of legalization null and void, most likely INCREASING the number of people in jail for marijuana-related "crimes".  Settle for decriminalization, however, and the future is bright for marijuana users.

                          •  no thanks, legalization is proper (0+ / 0-)

                            just like there are home-brew beers, we can have mom-and-pop grow operations for marijuana if it's legal.

                            decriminalization is stupid and makes no sense, i don't care about Marlboro Greens coming out, they can be the cheap, lame weak joints and you can support local businesses and stuff too.

                            that's actually one of the most absurd arguments i've ever heard against legalization -- the concern for corporatization?!?! lol

                            Deficits don't matter, jobs do.

                            by aguadito on Sun May 12, 2013 at 08:12:50 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Good Luck With That..... (0+ / 0-)

                            The government's only interest in legalizing marijuana is to get their grubby paws on tens of billions of dollars per year in revenue.  This scenario does not include legalization of pot grown in Willie Nelson's basement and sold at farmers' markets because the tax collection will be too difficult to control.  The tax stamp authority will be given exclusively to two corporations--Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds--who will mass-produce marijuana cigarettes filled with the same deadly carcinogens that tobacco cigarettes are.  Doing so will create a pretext for grandstanding politicians--the same ones calling for marijuana legalization today--to do a complete 180 and decree that "marijuana KILLS"....and thus call for an endless rising tide of new marijuana "sin taxes" to protect the children.  Sound like a familiar story?

                            As for those who dare to defy Uncle Sam and the sin tax empire he believes he's entitled to by selling homegrown marijuana despite being denied tax stamp authority to do so, the swift fist of DEA justice will hit him in the crotch even more fiercely than it does today......because at least today he's not standing in the way of fists full of Uncle Sam's cash.  Bottom line:  marijuana legalization undertaken by the government will result in more people in jail for marijuana-related crimes than today.....and your joints will taste like Camels....because for all intents and purposes that's what they'll be.  All of this could be avoided if you settle for decriminalization.  But if you insist on legalization, don't say I didn't warn you.

                          •  conspiracy theories based on nothing (0+ / 0-)

                            Tobacco can't be easily grown inside the home, so it's not a proper analogy.

                            Beer can be easily produced at home, and it's fully legal, easy to get homebrew licenses and do hobby-brewing.

                            "Bottom line:  marijuana legalization undertaken by the government will result in more people in jail for marijuana-related crimes than today"

                            This is fucking stupid and you're not basing this crack-fueled conspiracy theory on any facts or sensible analysis of the situation.  Just because I can easily brew beer or make wine in my home, doesn't mean I do it! It's a hell of a lot more convenient to not stink up my house with plants and just buy from an expert grower -- and I can support my local botanist rather than a corporate overlord.

                            Legalization would entail removing the federal tax stamp act, and there's absolutely no reason to think they would restrict issuance to big corporations.

                            Also taxes are good -- they're a backdoor to funding public institutions for people who hate income tax and have irrational hatred of the system (like yourself).

                            When I was a kid (i'm 26 now) I was a libertarian too. I was swept away by free-market idealogues like Milton Friedman and anti-government nutters like Ayn Rand and of course, the history of our nation which has a pretty consistent theme of anti-authority which i think is the reason why a lot of high school kids get influenced into being Libertarians.

                            But the fact is that not everything that is socially-beneficial is easily marketed and able to be profited on -- certain things in life should just not be left to markets to allocate resources of.

                            Markets should be the base of the vast majority of things -- but public institutions should be there to maintain unity and civility, as well as to prevent negative externalities that arise from market-driven activity (pollution, monopoly power, greed).

                            Also, the way our monetary system is designed is a legal ponzi scheme, as a result it would be immoral to refuse to allow people the decency of food, clothing, and shelter if they "lose the game" of capitalism. Even Milton Friedman supported negative income taxes and a guaranteed minimum income!

                            But certain "industries" -- like education, healthcare, basic housing -- should have a public presence in the market. So rather than an outright domination of, say, healthcare provision -- you can let there be Medicare for all so that no matter who you are you can choose to have a public plan rather than deal with big corporations trying to score a buck off you.

                            You can't have a society that runs purely off of profiting from one another -- it breeds distrust and screws up social cohesion.

                            Public institutions are really important, you don't want the private money interests to own all the land and assets in society because then you got nowhere to go unless you pay a fee! And no, charities DO NOT magically cover the shortfall when government does not step up to the plate to provide public goods. No matter what anecdotes you're fed about rich people giving money away to support the public good -- it's simply not sustainable if we don't have a democracy where we all agree that we need to have public institutions that serve as a backstop and help facilitate community.

                            You really need to travel outside the United States and read about 20th century history. When you let private money interests go wild, you can see what happens in parts of South America. You can also see in parts of Europe what happens when as a society you come together to form a social compact where the strong support the weak and where there are robust markets that are complemented by equally fortified safety nets that help provide opportunity to all.

                            I used to be like you, trust me. I hated seat belt laws, I hated taxes of all sorts -- and then I read a lot more books and history and I travelled and I realized there's a lot more to life than what a selected reading of US history. Societies aren't build, civilization is not build, by turning all incentives in life over to profit and private gain. Not everything that is good or beneficial in life is profitable! You'll grow out of it. Most of my friends who were like me in high school and college eventually snapped out of it. If you hit 30 and you still haven't, then I'd be worried.

                            Deficits don't matter, jobs do.

                            by aguadito on Sun May 12, 2013 at 08:44:32 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Nope.....Conspiracy Theories Based on Precedent... (0+ / 0-)

                            ....precedent which is unfolding at this moment with tobacco.  If you think for one minute that government has any other interest in legalizing marijuana than to turn it into "the new tobacco" in every conceivable way, then I have a bridge to sell you.

                            As for your other comments, I'm not averse at all to taxes, but I prefer they be progressive whenever possible and broad-based whenever possible, so as not to single anybody out, specifically not those of limited means.  It's sad that I even have to explain to pseudo-progressives why a $1.95 federal tax combined with an average $2 state tax on every 60-cent pack of cigarettes is the worst kind of tax.  That's straight out of Progressive Policy 101....or at least it was until Mike Bloomberg decided the savages needed to be civilized and the left decided to decree him their David Koresh.

                            I'm not and never was a Randian or Milton Friedman follower, but aspects of libertarianism have some appeal.  But it isn't really libertarianism to be against yet again more cigarette taxes.....it's more basic human decency to not further afflict the already afflicted and their families with a massive financial censure against a legal activity in which the government earns scores of billions of dollars in straight profit from every year.  

                            You don't have to educate me on the limitations of libertarian ideology.  I'm more of an old school labor Democrat with a blue-collar background who embraces a quasi-libertarian view on sin taxes simply because I don't want to see my already devastated family and neighbors be further destroyed.

                          •  cig tax is definitely regressive. (0+ / 0-)

                            that i can't argue against.

                            and, well, tobacco does offer a relief to an already marginalized class of people trying to make the best of a shitty, unfair system and life.

                            so you have a good point there.

                            didn't mean to strawman you as a Libertarian, but based on  the comments thread you were coming off as more that than a labor dem.

                            but -- the analogy of tobacco still doesn't hold up because weed is easier to grow and because it's an industrial cash crop, much different from weed.

                            Cannabis actually has elements of both tobacco and alcohol -- but it's distinct. I wouldn't jump to the conclusions you have jumped to with what would happen with legalization. I think if you change the law you will change the cultural attitudes towards it.  The jobs and GDP boost we would get from legitimizing the whole trade is something we really need right now.

                            Deficits don't matter, jobs do.

                            by aguadito on Sun May 12, 2013 at 09:57:55 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  In Colorado, (0+ / 0-)

                            It's legal to grow up to 5 plants for personal use. Only 3 can be in bud, however (LOL).

                            “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

                            by skohayes on Mon May 13, 2013 at 03:47:39 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

      •  No, it really is a public health issue (5+ / 0-)

        No "ifs" about it.

      •  So my sinus infection from 2nd hand smoke is (5+ / 0-)

        a moral illness?

        Because a trip to church (synog, mosque, temple or whatever) is WAY cheaper than the antibiotics. Especially since I don't have healthcare.

        I am much too liberal to be a Democrat.

        by WiseFerret on Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:14:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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