Sunday, June 20, 2010

Maybe They Should Just Go Ahead And Shoot Me! (Although, I Suppose That Doesn't Pay As Well.)

Fine! I get it! I'm a pariah and you can do anything you want to me without fear of censure.

Unless some miracle happens, New York will avoid a government shutdown by passing a budget with an adittional $1.60 tax on a pack of cigarettes.  NYS already has the third highest taxes on cigarettes in the country and N.Y. City tacks on another $1.50 per pack.

 Now I don't want to sound intemperate, but FUCK YOU ALREADY. Every time one of these taxes passes, someone makes noise about how the additional cost has the added benefit of getting people to quit.  At best, I'll call that argument disingenuous; at worst, it's the foulest bit of bullshit going.  Their purpose, plain and simple is to raise revenue from the least sympathetic group they can lay a target on.  If the tax really had a significant effect on how many people continued to smoke, they'd sell a lot less cigarettes and there wouldn't be any budget balancing benefit. Getting everyone to quit is the last thing they want.

Maybe I'm being cynical about their motives but I doubt it.  If their primary goal was to improve my health, they'd pass a law that makes me go jogging for 15 minutes before I can buy a pack. Every store would have to check to see that I got my heart rate up to some target before they could sell it to me.  The fact is, they could pass practically any law they want regarding smokers and get away with it.  I won't be surprised if I automatically get sentenced to one hour of Community Service for every pack I buy in 2012.  Ooooooh!  Look at the smokers' chain-gang cleaning out those nasty culverts!

There was, or maybe there still is a plan to add a 1¢ per ounce tax to sodas and other sugary drinks.  It doesn't have a chance in hell of passing because these people have a much better lobby than smokers do.

God-forbid you deny Junior a bottle of YooHoo with his keg of pork rinds.

I'm probably too late bitching about this, since apparently, the legislature is scheduled to pass this thing tomorrow.  I honestly didn't hear the first thing about it before the middle of last week.  But regardless of the futility of the matter, please allow me to suggest some alternative sources of revenue.
1. An additional tax on the first, second and third printings of any new Diet Book.

The purchasers of these books have demonstrated over and over again that they'll buy (and try) whatever new fad appears on the market regardless of cost or demonstrated efficacy. If there was a Diet Book that worked, there'd only be one Diet Book.  They've been selling new bullshit in this genre for ages.  The government should get its share.

2. There should be an additional tax on any product that encourages you to buy it while simultaneously warning you that, should you choose to use the product...all bets are off.

 Now, granted...I don't see anything in these ingredients that make me particularly concerned about their safety, but if you're willing to risk a hospital visit for your milk bath, you're probably willing to pony up a few extra pennies for the honor.

3. They could tax the hell out of "health supplements".

Talk about people willing to swallow anything without having a clue whether or not it actually does anything for them...much less whether or not it might kill them.  Those assholes should definitely have to fund the common weal.  As an alternative...and I'm not exactly sure how you'd enforce this one...the tax could be charged for instances of talking about their health supplement regimen. Truth be told, I don't actually give a shit what these people want to spend their money on or consume, but I definitely shouldn't have to listen to their holier-than-thou proselytizing.  If second-hand smoke is annoying, it's got nothing on these peoples' sermonizing.

4. As long as we're mentioning second-hand smoke, let's acknowledge the scourge of perfume.  Jumpin Jeebus on a pogo stick!  That shit needs a heavy surtax.

5. If you buy a car that gets less than, oh...thirty miles to the gallon, you should have to pay a big-assed tax commensurate with your big-assed ego.

(Allowances could be made to purchasers who can prove that they will carry a minimum of 75% of the vehicle's allowable payload 75% of the time they're driving it.  Yes, that has the drawback of getting a benefit from driving around with a posse, but fair is fair.)

6. Any item (or lifestyle choice) recommended by Oprah needs to have a monster tax added to it.

Thousands of people will rush out and buy anything if Oprah mentions it.  If some lady is willing to pay $800 for a fucking pashmina shawl, do you really think she'll care if the State gets a 20% kickback?  Hmmmm?  And it shouldn't matter if it's really Pashmina or not.  Anyone who pays that kind of money without knowing the difference should get soaked for every dime she's willing to shell out.

Ladies...Oprah is a BILLIONAIRE.  You can't have all the same shit she does.

7.  Cosmetic surgery for those who aren't fixing a real deformity or health issue should be taxed to hell and back. 'Nuf said.

8.  Last, but not least, if you paint your face for sporting events, you should have to pay a fee to the government.  The truth is...I just find these people highly annoying as a matter of principle.  Make them STOP.

I'm with this kid.

Granted, much of this post was frivolous, but I'm serious.  I'm really tired of being the go-to guy when the State goes broke and has to figure out who to go to for their pound of flesh.  I don't recall the part of good government that says go after the least liked group every time you need a few bucks.  Use a little imagination and some fucking balls and spread the pain out a little bit.  For whatever little good it does, I'm going to write to my Assemblyman and State Senator and let them know they're about to make of me something I've despised for years -- a single issue voter.
UPDATE, June 22nd:  OK, well they went ahead and approved the measure.  I haven't been able to find out what, if any, other taxes they increased to close the budget gap.  The articles I've seen this morning seem to indicate that all the other measures to close the gap were re-appropriations -- taking from  one agency to fund another.  I really hope my neighbors, statewide, appreciate having me and my fellow outcasts saving their asses.

In a slightly OT subject, but somewhat related...the Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently threatened to stop issuing free Student Metrocards. (NYC provides school buses for younger students but expects older ones to use city buses and subways.  The kids get free Metrocards.)  So, there was this massive outcry from students and parents alike to retain the freebie.  A few days ago the MTA announced that they had changed their minds.  The students had won!  Yay. This was followed immediately by the same parents screaming loudly about the possibility that fares might be increased for everyone else to pay for it (more than the 7.5% increase already planned for 2011). So, apparently, it's totally fair to increase taxes for one segment of the population by 68% (smokers), but unfair to increase a fee to everyone who uses mass transit (by 7.5-10%) so your little snowflakes can continue to ride for free. 

Hypocrite much?



Warner (aka ntsc) said...

I'm not bothered by the tobacco or sugar taxes, but have you looked at auto registration lately?

Nathan said...

I'm bothered by the tobacco tax precisely for the same reason the "sugar" tax won't pass. It's the annual, "We need more money, let's go after smokers 'cause everybody hates them already. The "sugar" tax doesn't have a chance in hell because of all the mommies who can't figure out how to make a pitcher of iced tea (from instant?), or, OMG, actually brew some.

I really didn't bitch much when the last increase went into effect, but c'mon already! How about spreading the pain around a little more fairly.

WendyB_09 said...

You can tell by looking at that list just exactly which states are tobacco-growing states...

My problem with the so-called sugar tax is that it would discriminate against people like me who are allergic to artifical sweetners. And doesn't deal with all the manufacturers that are using high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar, I've read multiple opinions that crap's worse than sugar on an addiction scale.

See, I can't drink things like diet soda because Nutrashit, I mean NutraSweet, in any minute amount, gives me an instant migraine, it's like I've been hit with a 2x4! I learned that the hard way when the stuff first came out 20+ years ago. Some of the newer ones, like Splenda, cause wild mood swings, and I mean wild.

So I'll stick to my sugar, thank you very much. Don't take my sugar away...

Tom said...

Something's screwy with that chart. There's a 73 cent tax difference between Mass and New Hampshire, but there's a 3 dollar price difference.

And did you see the additional $1.50 NYC charge over the NY state tax? Poor Nathan is really getting poked in the rear.

I'd say it's time for you to investigate Internet sales from South Carolina or somewhere...

Nathan said...


I may have worded that badly, but it's not just sugar. The tax would (have been?) aimed at high fructose corn syrup and all the other sweeteners in use.

And Tom,

NYS and City are aware of the internet. And other States. They sued years ago to make those outlets turn over their sales records and went after resident purchasers for the taxes owed on internet sales.


WendyB_09 said...

Oh, great, they'll probably want to tax honey & maple syrup too!