False Consciousness in Massachusetts: You Must Pay More for Booze!

Because Americans (and everyone else on Earth) like getting stuff for free, legislators and pundits often accuse voters of “false consciousness,” of voting “against their self-interest,” when they inveigh against higher taxes to fund sub-par government service from which they benefit. There is something to be said against the presumption, famously promulgated in Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter With Kansas, that complaining that one’s Medicare benefits are meager and supporting smaller government is rank hypocrisy. After all, one needn't be a Hayekian to think that politicians are rather good at wasting taxpayer money on pointless pork projects. But what some politicians, notably this one in my home state of Massachusetts, seem to not understand is that their political mandate is determined not by random opinion polls, but by how those finicky voters cast their ballots.

So despite the niggling fact that Massachusetts voters repealed an alcohol tax last election, Democratic State Rep. Kay Kahn decided recently that this was an unwise decision, that there is a “disconnect” (her word) between what voters pull the lever for and what they really want. So Kahn has taken it upon herself to correct the confused instincts of her constituents, offering a bill to reinstate the alcohol tax. From the State House News Service:

Although voters opted to repeal a year-old sales tax on alcohol, Rep. Kay Khan said Tuesday she has introduced legislation to reinstate the tax, as well as several other tax proposals she said should be part of the state's budget debate….

"I think that's what people want to hear," Khan said. "I think there's a disconnect between wanting all of the services, wanting to get money back to our cities and towns for local aid and education -- and we have to pay for it."

Khan, who chaired the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities last session, said she also intends to file legislation to increase the excise tax on alcohol, as well as a proposal to remove the sales tax exemption on candy and fruit drinks.

Of course, in a time of fiscal crisis, another Democrat in the State House has done the inevitable, tabling a bill that would increase cigarette taxes by $1.50 per pack, pushing many brands over the $10 mark. An updated list of state minimum cigarette prices ($9.50 for Lucky Strikes?) can be gasped at here.

Via Boston Globe blogger Garrett Quinn.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Moynihan really should have just reused Radley's title below.

  • Paul||

    Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnn!!!

  • Xenocles||

    I'm originally from Massachusetts. Let me tell you, there isn't much in the way of consciousness there - false or otherwise.

  • ||

    You know who else was from Mass, right?

  • ||

    Matt Damon?

  • Dello||

    F.A.G.

  • Almanian||

    Ted Kennedy?

  • Ragin Cajun||

    Amy Bishop?

  • Almanian||

    John Adams?

  • Almanian||

    ABIGAIL ADAMS!!? No?

  • ||

    Adolf Hitler. He was born in Braunau Am Inn, Massachusetts. His parents moved to the Austrian town of the same name as part of a sister-city program. This fact was buried by the Allies after the end of WWII.

  • Paul||

    His birth mother's maiden name: Damon. No, it's true.

  • ||

    Mein Gott!

  • Xenocles||

    Part of this effort involved travelling back in time to make his birthplace part of the Quabbin Reservoir. It was later realized that they probably should have just killed Hitler instead but they could only use the time machine once.

  • ||

    I was thinking, actually, of the late Joe P. Boyle.

  • ||

    Some other Nazi?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Niggling: RACIST!!!

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    +1

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    While visiting Lake Titicaca or Intercourse, Pennsylvania, I like to read Joseph Conrad's The Nigger of the "Narcissus." There, I've said it.

  • ||

    "False conciousness," how quaint. I didn't know Marxism was back in style this year.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Can anyone think of a better way to get reelected, than by reversing a decision that your constituents made? Genius! Too bad the constituents probably are not geniuses, and have no idea what policies this idiot comes up with.

  • ||

    Kahn is from Middlesex County, which voted against repealing the tax (though I can't find results down to the district level). So perhaps she is a genius.

  • ||

    Does this mean that when you go to Yankee Spirits in Sturbridge from Connecticut it's going to cost more?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    What does alcohol have to do with the services Mass provides, except for it being something to tax? I hate excise taxes. Tax everything the same, you unprincipled assholes.

  • Juice||

    I want all sorts of things from private companies too. There must be a disconnect between what I want and what I can afford. Glad this woman helped me see that.

  • Old Mexican||

    [D]espite the niggling fact that Massachusetts voters repealed an alcohol tax last election, Democratic State Rep. Kay Kahn decided recently that this was an unwise decision, that there is a "disconnect" (her word) between what voters pull the lever for and what they really want.


    In other words, the good representative thinks her constituents, all of them, are schizophrenic.

  • Old Mexican||

    Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time.


    What prompted this?

    Tell me the truth - - - - Was it Epi?

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    I could be wrong, but I'm guessing it was this guy.

  • Ted S.||

    For those of us who don't have facebook accounts, who is "this guy"?

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    Arthur Alan Wolk.

  • ||

    I certainly hope so.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Episiarch,

    I certainly hope so.


    And who said one cannot change the world? Ha!

  • sevo||

    "What prompted this?"
    Off Topic flag!

  • Almanian||

    Maybe if we're self correcting, the server Overlords will be pleased and take pity on our souls?

  • Mango Punch||

    Where in MA are you from Mr. M?

  • sevo||

    It's quite obvious that she merely didn't select her voters well enough. Just wait till the next reapportionment; she'll get the voters she needs.

  • Zeb||

    God I hate the "voting against their self interest" bullshit. As if poor people are incapable of having any principles. Do these people actually fail to see that some people, even poor people, might just believe that less government is a good thing?

  • Pip||

    "God I hate the "voting against their self interest" bullshit."

    No, they do it all of the time. Take voting for Rep. Kay Khan, for instance.

  • SM||

    This is a good one. Point out the exact service that you will cut now that the tax is gone and see how consistent the "voters" are...see if they believe in "less" government.

    Hint: they believe in "free" government, and i'm not talking about liberty...

  • Pip||

    "Lucky Strikes"

    Loose Straps Mean Flabby Tits

  • ||

    I've heard liberal friends complain over the years that they were dismayed that "blue-collar" lower income whites voted for Republicans even though it "wasnt in their self interest" because Republicans "favor the rich." Leaving aside the truth or falsity of that statement, it seems to escape them that people might have certain moral or ethical beliefs (e.g. no one has a claim on the property or labor of another person, it is unjust to take property from one person by force and give it to another person etc) which they adhere to even if it does not profit them personally.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Pablo,

    I've heard liberal friends complain over the years that they were dismayed that "blue-collar" lower income whites voted for Republicans even though it "wasnt in their self interest" because Republicans "favor the rich."


    Ask your friends if the only reason they vote is to cater to their self-interest.

  • Xenocles||

    Better yet, ask them why so many super-rich support liberal policies. You win either way: either you break the meme of self-interest violation or they force themselves to figure out how the wealthy liberal votes are self-serving.

  • tarran||

    No, to be rich and to vote for big government is to transcend ones class to do what's best for everyone.

    Only the plebes who vote the "wrong" way are guilty of false consciousness... Or they've been duped by the Koch brothers.

  • ||

    (golf clap)

  • Michael||

    "I think there's a disconnect between wanting all of the services, wanting to get money back to our cities and towns for local aid and education -- and we have to pay for it."

    Twice over the course of the past week I read articles that quoted local legislators regurgitating some variation of, "everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die." Can you imagine how miserable it must be to go through life viewing the world strictly through that lens? I almost feel inclined to pity such puny minds that are incapable of recognizing any possibilities beyond the scope of the government.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Michael,

    I almost feel inclined to pity such puny minds that are incapable of recognizing any possibilities beyond the scope of the government.

    Hey: Read the disclaimer, and watch what you're posting here, young man!

  • SM||

    Ask them which services they want cut and see if the math adds up...

    ...i'll wait right here.

  • mike||

    why not tax it all at once and achieve that magical $20 per pack mark tomorrow instead of a buck every 6 months

  • Almanian||

    Hey, complete off topic, bu

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!

    *~~@$#@#W.....they're not kidding about the new rule, guys.....#%^%%^*&

    *passses out*

  • ||

    Ok, the Democrat's civility strategy to muzzle the opposition has gone too far. Now, they even have Nick and Matt going along with it. There are occasions when incivility is necessary, like when someone is busy trying to burn down your house.

  • ||

    Not true. You simply pick up your sword, walk outside, and address the malfeasor: "I say, good man, I must ask that you please refrain from igniting my home. If you continue, I fear I must run you through. With the deepest respect, of course."

  • ||

    I'd like to think the Tea Party was about as polite a request to stop as you could ask for. But the malfeasor is still pouring the gas and running him through is becoming the only viable option.

  • ||

    Look at the Three Musketeers. All of them and D'Artagnan would kill you as a point of honor, but they'd be damned civil while they did it.

  • ||

    A little context would be nice.

    Right now in Massachusetts, our liberal Democrat governor is proposing a blood-on-the-floor austerity budget that will close already meager mental health facilities, slash aid to cities and towns for such luxuries as police and fire protection, and do a bunch of other nice, pretty things to our public amenities. The budget proposal is loaded with Righty-friendly cost-saving measures on the public payroll, but it still isn't enough to spare us painful service cuts.

    In context, the notion of having to pay an extra nickel before sucking down a longneck at the local nudie bar doesn't look to me like much of a start down the road to a Stalinist living hell. But thanks for your concern.

  • ||

    There's nothing else to cut? I like how state governments and municipalities like to threaten services that actually matter and/or are popular as soon as the slightest squeeze begins. Ignoring, of course, that they are intentionally shutting library doors or whatever instead of cutting other, far less critical expenditures. Pretty pathetic.

  • ||

    Make your assumptions, and move on.

    Why question your preconceived notions?

  • mr simple||

    still isn't enough to spare us painful service cuts.

    Good. Take your medicine.

  • ||

    Tell me about it.

    Next time I go to your momma's house, I'll remember the condoms.

  • Paul||

    blood-on-the-floor austerity budget that will close already meager mental health facilities, slash aid to cities and towns for such luxuries as police and fire protection, and do a bunch of other nice, pretty things to our public amenities

    As a recent exercise I randomly picked years as far back as I could, purposely focusing on years when times were "good" for budgets in the state I lived in.

    Every year was a crisis. Everything was being "cut to the bone". The word "Slash" was used continuously and needless to say, there was never enough money. To be in government is essentially perpetual drought, starvation, austerity, and belt tightening. How tough it must be to work for the government.

    So "blood on the floor austerity"? Frankly, when those words come out of a legislator's mouth... hell, anyone's mouth when we discuss a 'cut' in government (which so often means a slowdown in growth), it's not enough to even get me out of bed in the morning.

  • ||

    Not so in Massachusetts. We had many good years, when spending went up while taxes stayed flat or went down -- the exact opposite of what we should have been doing.

    The present Massachusetts budget is authentically recession-driven.

    I can't speak to whatever "Winter's Bone" backwaters you come from.

  • Jordan||

    Actually, it does because the proper context includes the facts that spending has gone through the roof, while the quality/quantity of services provided has not changed at all.

  • tarran||

    The blood on the floor budget will have spending equivalent to the bad old days of the 90's, when drifts of sying grandmothers were piled 16 feet deep in front of the main entrance of MGH.

    The problem here in MA is that they have made doing business prohbitively expensive. It's killing economic growth. And the govrenmental/ng/media complex keeps spewing out propaganda to the effect that the economy killing regulations must be kept at 11 to prevent the aforementioned drifts of dead grannies. Just to give you an example of how nuts it it, last year the Mass Supreme Court upheld a lawsuit where an office of a startup sued his own company for violating the Mass Labor Law in the contract it signed with him... the one he, as an officer, approved of at the time.

    This April, I am going to find a quiet place and mourn the failure of Shay's Rebellion

  • SM||

    They should be more like the rich states of mississippi which don't have all these fancy rules...

    ...the logic on this site is hilarious...

  • ||

    That's a foolish statement. Mississippi is not a good place to do business and has run off whole industries.

  • ||

    Seriously. Massachusetts is bursting at the seams with jobs, universities, high tech and major research of every variety.

    Our burdens are not taxes or regulations. Our burdens are:

    (i) a lack of housing supply and

    (ii) a mutinous state legislature in what is nominally a "one-party" Democratic state, but in which a bunch of retrograde hack DINOs on Beacon Hill undercut and sabotage the governor at every turn, no matter how sensible or necessary the reform in question.

  • Dello||

    I always wonder why politicians are surprised to find out that people don't trust them.

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