Ohio Knows Best?


If Governor Bob Taft (Republican) gets his way, Ohio will double the excise tax on alcohol from 18 cents to 36 cents. Beer drinker Fred Lisy promises the new tax will not keep him from drinking, "It's just the principle of being taxed like that. It's distateful."

He's referring not just to the new alcohol tax, but to sin taxes in general. Such levies are easy to impose because they punish unpopular goods or services (smoking, drinking, etc.) that most people have no problem condemning. That makes them an ugly combination of paternalism, social scapegoating, and—given that they are mostly used in times of budget shortfall—fiscal irresponsibility. They're great if you want to pick on drinkers or punish small businesses, but not if you want to respect your citizens' freedom.