At the risk of wasting even more of my precious breath, I want to talk about the new taxes being levied against us smokers. No, I’m not going to try to defend smoking - I know it’s bad for me. Blah, blah, blah. Instead, I want to defend my right to be treated as an equal in this society. An equal who should be free from the “targeting of convenience” mentality that seems to be running rampant in cash-starved government revenue agencies.
Being a cheapskate on a fixed budget I make my own cigarettes, so having the price of a 16oz bag of tobacco go $18 to $44 seems a wee bit EXCESSIVE to me. Regardless of all the babble about encouraging us to stop and using the money to fund health care efforts, we all know that this is nothing more than a grab for cash from a group who isn’t “popular” enough for anyone to defend. Hell, I’m probably one of the few smokers even willing to speak out. But before you dismiss me a just another nut fighting a lost cause, take a minute to allow me to add some reality to the issue.
First of all, what will happen to all those poor people whose health is being “saved” with this new revenue if this “encouragement to quit” blackmail actually works? Do you really believe that they think we will all quit? Second, if my health is such a concern to the government, then why do they block every attempt of the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries to market a smoke-free nicotine delivery system? While you can argue that nicotine is unhealthy, only a fool would say that it poses the health threat of all those other chemicals in cigarette smoke.
Of course, the real question is this: If tobacco is such a dangerous thing that poses such a threat to all of us, then why doesn’t the government just ban it outright? Please allow me to spell it out for you. The government knows that a ban on tobacco would only lead to a massive black market that they cannot prosper from. Then why not allow healthier alternatives that can be taxed? Because, like any addict, they’ve told so many lies that they simply can’t figure out how to do the right thing without revealing what monstrous hypocrites they truly are!
Indeed, the marketplace offers many opportunities for revenue generating regulation and taxation - drugs and prostitution are just a couple more examples. But rather than face the truth and deal with these things with the rational thinking they say we should use, they prefer to maintain their “because we said so!” attitudes and continue wasting precious lives and billions of dollars on lost-cause anti-crime efforts and drug wars.
And speaking of drugs, there’s a medium sized debate going on about whether or not marijuana should be legalized. While “the conservatives” argue against it because of the so-called “gateway” effect, the health nuts argue that marijuana smoke is even more unhealthy than cigarette smoke. But do you hear any of them admitting that making the prescription drug Marinol available over the counter to adults would solve this problem?
In closing, I want to remind you that smokers aren’t the only “targets of convenience” available for these new revenue enhancement measures. Drivers should be concerned about all those traffic cameras and the talk of new fuel consumption taxes. And what about the “fat taxes” I keep hearing about? The bottom line is that anyone not protected by the umbrella of “popularity” should keep an eye out - and up - for the big boot of government.
I am always amazed at how casually some can simply dismiss the rights of others simply because they don’t approve of how “those people” live. The issue here is not about health, the poor, or the Prez’s agenda. The issue is whether or not the majority has the right to target an “unpopular” group for taxation that is not shared across the board by all citizens. My answer is No! In a free society, there can be no such thing as the right to deny the rights of others.
On a more humorous note, maybe this ultra-litigious society provides hope after all. Remember all those new laws intended to protect the decent non-smokers from the horrors spewing from my mouth? Recent polls show that less than 20% of Americans smoke these days, while I think at least 95% spew forth mind-crushing second-hand bull#$%@. Where do I go to get laws passed protecting me from them?
I want ice water.