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View Diary: DK Elections Policy Weekly Open Thread: What Issues Are You Interested In? (256 comments)

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  •  Mark27 has spoken quite forcefully... (2+ / 0-)
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    ProudNewEnglander, MichaelNY

    Against sin taxes before, to the point where David Nir has asked him to shut up about it, IIRC. Not that that matters on the policy threads, of course, but just know that he has that history on the issue.

    For the record, I wholeheartedly agree with you that sin taxes are smart policy, although I'm not sure they act as a strong disincentive.

    Pragmatic progressive. Oregonian, Cascadian, and American. Keeper of the DKE glossary.

    by SaoMagnifico on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 09:48:57 AM PST

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    •  What's the evidence on the extent (1+ / 0-)
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      of the disincentive? Smoking has decreased a lot in the last few decades, but how much of that is related to increased tobacco taxation and how much is related to heavy publicity for its dire health consequences and resulting decrease in "coolness" of smoking? Meanwhile, have alcohol taxes had any measurable effect on drinking?

      I am not opposed to taxing things to try to create a disincentive, but if it's shown that the taxation has no such effect, that would make me look more askance at them. I'd mention gasoline taxes in this discussion, too. Obviously, many people have no choice but to buy gasoline to go to and from work and the shopping mall to buy groceries, but do gas tax increases at a certain level decrease optional driving and, thus, help the environment?

      Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

      by MichaelNY on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 11:41:19 AM PST

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      •  Even If The Disincentive Factor Was Considerable.. (0+ / 0-)

        .....don't we as a society have some measure of civic duty on behalf of those who continue to consume the product we're trying to disincentivize?  Particularly if that product is proven to be fiercely addictive to users?  And particularly when the profiles of those consumers are among the most vulnerable amongst us, often including abuse victims and the mentally ill?  At the very least don't you acknowledge the need for a balance between disincentivizing usage of a product and not destroying the lives of those who keep using it (and their families who suffer along with them)?

      •  And Furthermore..... (4+ / 0-)
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        jncca, gabjoh, MichaelNY, Skaje much can we really believe that government is operating in good faith with disincentivizing usage of the "sinful" product they're taxing if they keep going back to that tax to pay for every new program?  If Obama raises cigarette taxes to single-handedly pay for a new children's health care entitlement and proposes to raise them yet again to single-handedly pay for universal preschool, can we really believe he wants to disincentivize cigarette smoking?  Likewise, if the Minnesota Legislature spiked cigarettes to historic levels out of a desire to coerce people to quit smoking, do we then expect that they want to default on the Minnesota Vikings stadium that the cigarette stadium was earmarked to pay for.  They don't get to have it both ways.  If sin taxes are intended to disincentivize usage, politicians are guilty of the highest order of budgetary malpractice by setting up long-range spending priorities paid for with a funding source they don't expect to materialize, and in fact hopes it doesn't.

        •  Yeah that pretty much solidifies it for me (1+ / 0-)
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          I used to be fairly ambivalent about vice taxes, but the more I think about it, the more I realize how disingenuous it is for politicians to suggest that they pass them out of real concern for the health of their constituents, or to actually try to reduce usage.

          It's like making police departments reliant on speeding tickets for their budgets.  Would they really then want people to stop speeding?

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