Friday, July 20, 2007

The economics of prohibition

Over at The Corner, Jonah Goldberg shares this letter from a reader regarding the Dems' plan to jack up the tax on cigars from 5¢ to $10 stick...
The supposed reason for the tax is to raise money. But naturally when the tax goes from $.05 to $10.00 per cigar, they won't even get the $.05 because people like me will quit. I support my family of six on not alot of money in rural Oklahoma and I smoke usually one a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less. It's one of life's simple pleasures and I resent that I will have to give it up. I'm an Anglican priest and the only way I would quit would be if the doctor told me to or if I became a Baptist pastor. :) Or of course if my $37 bundle of 25 cigars goes up to $287 a bundle, I will also quit. I know it's such a minor thing compared to the ills of the world, but it truly bothers me.
The minister certainly represents one possible reaction to such a tax. Unfortunately, his reaction will not be the rule. It may not even be typical. This tax, should it become law, will encourage people to get the product they want by whatever means necessary. This would include, our history shows, buying on the black market.

The purpose of the tax, as the minister hints, is not to raise money; it's to stop people from smoking cigars. As such, it is a type of prohibition, just like this nation's flirtation with the prohibition of alcohol. All that was accomplished by alcohol prohibition was the rise of organized crime. This new prohibition will repeat that history. Those who choose to continue smoking, will be willing to pay less than $10 a cigar for their pleasure. All a bootlegger needs to do to sell his product is undercut the tax. He could sell that $2 cigar for $5 and call it "half priced". The old 5¢ tax goes uncollected, as does the new $10 tax, and the extra $3 goes into a smuggler's pocket.

Your tax dollars at work?

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Apropos of nothing...

I just love the "Preparing to background save" BS from MS Word. Background save... Kinda sounds like it's going to do that in the background, huh? Like it means that the program won't come to a screeching halt during the process? Like it won't sit there for a few moments like a 15-year old geek with taped glasses staring at a girl in a bikini? Like it will let you continue to work while this task happens in the background?

I wonder if it's done yet.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

More on that nifty little add-on

ScribeFire is a blogging add-on for Firefox. This makes blogging very convenient. The account wizard makes adding multiple accounts easy. If you blog under more than one account, this could save you the trouble of logging on and off of accounts. See the little "Powered by..." link below for more details.

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A test post

...using a nifty little blogging extension for Firefox.

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