Normally, I don’t like to let other people speak for me, but today I read this column by Howie Carr of the Boston Herald, and it’s as if he had read my mind. This is one of those rare times when I can honestly say that I absolutely, positively agree with everything he says here.
But before I hand it off to Howie, I want to make a few points of my own. First, I am not trying to defend cigarettes. Anyone who hasn’t lived under a rock for the last forty years knows that cigarettes are bad for you. But it’s unfair and just plain wrong to keep picking the pockets of smokers simply because they have become a politically impotent minority. Funny how you never see anyone suggest an increase in the tax on booze.
It simply amazes me how proponents of this tax manage to say–with a straight face–that this increase will simultaneously decrease smoking and increase revenue. Those who think they can tax tobacco out of existence are sadly deluded on two counts. First, there are three things that humans have always done: drink, smoke, and gamble. They have always been willing to spend money to do these things, and they have always been willing to break the law to do these things. Laws prohibiting these things have never actually stopped them, merely driven them underground and into the hands of criminals.
Secondly, they are truly deluded if they think the government really wants to eliminate smoking. Tobacco taxes are an integral part of any state’s budget. Without tobacco taxes, there would be a serious shortfall that would have to be made up with–guess what?–more taxes.
But there is such a thing as killing the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg. You can push people too far, and, judging from conversations I’ve had with people, we in Taxachusetts may very well be at that point. Governor Tailpipe tells us that it will raise $1.74 million in new tax revenue. Yeah, for New Hampshire. Live Free or Die? Well, New Hampshire may not be free, but they’re a hell of a lot cheaper than Massachusetts.
Howie mentions that the vote was 93-52, with 33 Democrats joining the 19 lonely Republicans in our state House. Had there been a Republican governor in the Corner Office instead of Governor Tailpipe, a veto could have been sustained.
Where have you gone, William Weld? Our Commonwealth turns it’s lonely eyes to you.