Believes Will is off base
in recent 'sin tax' column
To the editor:
I seldom disagree with George Will because he is usually quite thoughtful and sees both sides of an issue. However, I do disagree with him in his Tuesday column. He is only looking at one aspect for certain so called "sin" taxes. He deals primarily with the tobacco tax and any impending "sin taxes" as a way to cut down on consumption of those items. He does not consider the second item that those taxes address. That is the cost to the general population because of the health cost to those who use tobacco that is paid out of general tax funds such as Medicare and Medicaid. His perspective is narrow minded when he reduces the use of "sin" taxes to one cost item.
There is no question in my mind that the tax on tobacco has reduced the use of tobacco in the general population and required those who do use tobacco to pay more of the cost of caring for themselves when the use begins to cause medical costs paid for out of general tax funds (Medicare and Medicaid).
George Will did not address the fact that tobacco use has actually been reduced. How much it has been reduced due to the tax and how much of the reduction has been due to the recognition that use of tobacco has an objectionable aspect for the general population that does not use tobacco is difficult to determine. However, it is nice now to be able to enter almost any public building and have smoke-free air to breathe.
George Will's column was not really about the tobacco tax. His column was opposed to imposing tax mandates on "High Sugar Sweet" beverages. Again I think he misses the real life point of any tax such as the tobacco tax. It has reduced tobacco use which in turn has reduced overall medical costs. Even Mr. Will admits that. My argument is that even if it had not reduced tobacco usage, that tax will help pay the cost of medical needs for smokers and those who do not smoke but are affected by the tobacco smoke.
George Will usually is able to see the long term effects from an action. This time he is unable to see the total picture. Will a tax on SSBs reduce the use of said SSBs? No one knows and some pundit in the future may write the same article as Will did deriding that tax because either it did not make a dent in the usage of SSBs or the dent was not worth the effort. Again they would perhaps miss the fact that at least the tax from the SSBs would help pay part of the cost of caring for illness caused by that use.
If I was in power to promote a tax, I would impose a "fat" tax based on salt, fat and sugar in prepared food products. Thus no tax on fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, and grain products.
With all that said, he indirectly does make a salient point. That the tax will just become another cash cow for government (read "no" term length government employees) to use on stupid pet projects.
John E. Brockett