Tax cuts are medicine for a recession, say most economists; they
divert money from government coffers back to the people who earned it.
The theory is that individuals spend the money more quickly and more
diversely than the government could. Theory's theory, but when
real-life politicians see tax revenues dropping from a recession (when
the economy slows, tax revenue based on percentages of income and
expenditure also slows) their swift and immediate reaction is to shore
up the money stream -- their money stream. Faced with a recession,
politicians often raise taxes.
Last time that happened was in 1991. From that we got lots of "targeted"
taxes. Taxes were imposed on a variety of safe products,
"safe" because no one would complain about them. Tax penalties
were imposed on rich folks' toys like yachts and luxury cars, and
no one complained. Additional taxes were imposed on beer, a fair chunk
of additional taxes, and no one complained.
What?! More beer tax, and no one complained? Beer consumption
dropped slightly so brewery jobs were lost (in the middle of a
recession), and no one complained? Of course not. No one ever complains
loudly about beer taxes (or any kind of booze taxes). They're called "sin
taxes," taxes on the things we all "know" we
shouldn't really do. After all, you don't really need beer, do
you? (Beware: if you answer "Yes!", you're liable to be
called an alcoholic and stigmatized.) No, not any more than rich
people need yachts. I guess.
Oh, bullshit. I do need beer. It tastes good, and nothing else
tastes like it. I want that taste, and to get it, I need beer.
And it pisses me off that the government balances their budget on our
backs because we won't say "Enough!" Meanwhile, the
teetotalers laugh their butts off and spend their money on Ovaltine and
All that wouldn't sting nearly so much, though, if it weren't that
the rich folk had successfully, quietly, adroitly lobbied to have those
yacht and luxury car taxes repealed. That's right, every one of
the recession-spawned taxes of 1991 have been lifted except the one
on beer. There's fairness for you. The only tax increase that affected people
who weren't in the top tax bracket is still in place.
And sure enough, like dogs returning to their folly,
politicians have returned to beer to bridge the tax shortflow of the
current recession. Across the country, state legislatures are
considering additional beer taxes, knowing that people won't stand up and
say, "Hold it, hold it! Don't tax my beer!"
They know that if they say that, their neighbors will say "What's
that, Jim? Can't afford to pay another 50 cents a six-pack? Gotta
have that beer or you'll just fold up, eh?" So they sit down and
Listen to me: "Hold it, hold it! Don't tax my beer!"
Damn straight. Is it only beer drinkers that are affected by the
recession? So why should they have to pay more for it than other people?
I can think of no good reason whatsoever. Is it because beer isn't a
necessity? Tax manicures then, tax TV evangelists, tax frozen
yogurt, tax websites!
Of course it is, and so is taxing beer. There's no reason for
taxing beer more than orange juice except one: we'll pay it.
Don't. Ask your state rep if there are any beer tax increases
pending in the legislature. If there are, tell them you're opposed to
them. Then tell them that if they have to raise taxes, you don't mind
paying your fair share, but they should do it broadly, evenly, and
fairly. This country was founded on tax revolt, and while we don't need
to grab a musket and kiss the family goodbye, we do need to make a call.
Get to it, we're counting on you.