Is this the beginning of corporate sponsorship of our government?
The Associated Press reports that the owner of Philip Morris, America's largest tobacco company, is sponsoring a rally in opposition to raising cigarette taxes by $1-per-pack here in Georgia [Associated Press (2010-3-9). Anti-Tax group to rally. Athens Banner Herald. Retrieved on 2010-3-9.].
Like many other states, Georgia is facing a significant drop in tax revenue due to the struggling economy. Georgia's state budget is projected to be close to $2 billion in the red [Shearer, Lee (2010-3-9). State deficit likely closer to $2B. Athens Banner Herald. Retrieved on 2010-3-9.]. State legislators are seeking ways to balance the budget through cuts and even tax increases.
Whether you support raising the cigarette tax or not, you must agree that there is something inherently wrong with a big tobacco company sponsoring a rally in opposition to a tax that could conceivably affect their bottom line.
I mean this rally isn't organized by a group of citizens petitioning their government for a redress of grievances. This is a corporation trying to maximize its profits under the guise of demonstrating popular support against raising the tobacco tax.
Popular sentiment in Georgia firmly favors increasing the cigarette tax. A poll says that 75% of Georgians would support a $1 raise in the cigarette tax [Capelouto, Susanna (2010-3-8). Cigarette Tax Gets Push At Capitol. Georgia Public Broadcasting. Retrieved on 2010-3-9.]. Yet, Georgia has legislators such as House Speaker David Ralston and Senate Republican Leader Chip Rogers who continue to slam the door shut on a cigarette tax increase.
Georgia Public Broadcasting says that Ralston and Rogers both plan on attending the Philip Morris-sponsored anti-tax rally. I guess that means the Republican leaders of Georgia's General Assembly are corporate tools.
If that is the case, then how long before Georgians see a Philip Morris decal in the halls of state government.