Taxes

If You Care About the Uninsured, Please Drink Budweiser. Or Schlitz. Or Coors. Or Hamm's. It Doesn't Really Matter What Beer You Drink, Only That You Drink a Highly Taxed Beer. And If You Really Care About The Uninsured, Why Not Drink a Case of Beer?

|

Is it too late to take it all back, this loose talk about legalizing "vices" and then taxing them?

Some details on a "proposed beer tax" currently working its way through Congress like a kidney stone through Ted Kennedy's man-parts. It's all over but the shouting, screaming, and gnashing of teeth:

Consumers in the United States may have to hand over nearly $2 more for a case of beer to help provide health insurance for all.

Details of the proposed beer tax are described in a Senate Finance Committee document that will be used to brief lawmakers Wednesday at a closed-door meeting.

Taxes on wine and hard liquor would also go up. And there might be a new tax on soda and other sugary drinks blamed for contributing to obesity. No taxes on diet drinks, however.

Beer taxes would go up by 48 cents a six-pack, wine taxes would rise by 49 cents per bottle, and the tax on hard liquor would increase by 40 cents per fifth. Proceeds from the new taxes would help cover an estimated 50 million uninsured Americans.

Geez, I think we can guess what kind of lushes runs Congress based on the progressively lighter taxes on wine and booze (let's see, the rates work out to about 7 cents per can of beer, 10 cents per glass of wine, and about 2 cents per shot). Should light beers (which have fewer calories but taste great!) get a reduced tax rate, akin to the diet soda loophole? And thank you in advance, Sens. Kennedy and Dodd, for personally raising enough tax money so that Little Jimmy can finally get that operation. Indeed, you probably raised enough just by the end of that closed-door (hic!) meeting.

Whole article here.

Time for a history lesson: The Whiskey Rebellion came about in the 1790s after the newly formed U.S.A. levied a tax on booze and carriages to pay off the national debt. Still, the tax was, according to the generally odious Alexander Hamilton, pushed "more as a measure of social discipline than as a source of revenue." The episode even spawned a Joe the Plumber type character, known as Tom the Tinker. The Whiskey Rebellion was the first time that federal troops were called out on citizens and it ended the way these things always do: Busting up a bunch of stuff, arresting some "simpletons," and helping to push legal production into gray- and black-market modes for years to come.

Why wasn't there a Schoolhouse Rock video about the Whiskey Rebellion?

More about Beer: An American Revolution, from Reason.tv:


For downloadable versions and embed code of this video, go here.

NEXT: Union Chief, to the California He Helped Drive Into the Ditch: "I think democracy is an ugly thing"

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.

  1. Dear Democrats,

    I try to take up for you guys as much as I can. But then you go out and do crazy messed up things like pay for SCHIP expansion on the backs of poor people with a stupid cigarette tax increase. Now you are considering a beer tax. Listen morons, these taxes hit poor people the most and they represent nannyism at its worst, in fact an elitist form of nannyism that paternalistically tries to get “those people” to do what’s “best” for themselves….These are really, really stupid ideas. Cut this shit out!

    Wishing you the best (though it’s pretty difficult right now),

    MNG

  2. As you can see the Democrats fucking love the poor. That’s why they keep raising taxes on them.

    So they’ll stay that way.

  3. Is it too late to take it all back, this loose talk about legalizing “vices” and then taxing them?

    The previous article wasn’t wrong, it merely showed an understanding that compromises are often (unfortunately) necessary to get things done in politics. That’s offensive to purists who’d rather see hundreds of thousands of peaceful Americans be brutalized in prison rather than pay a penny of taxes on (still illegal) drugs, prostitution, or gambling.

    As for additional taxes on already legal products, the Feds should cram them in any convenient orifice. Fortunately, homebrewing is apparently not included in the tax. Also, smokers can legally grow their own, too.

  4. Tax on a bottle of MD 20/20 – 15%.
    Tax on a bottle of Dom Perignon – 0.25%

    This shit makes FICA taxes look fucking progressive.

  5. Works for me dude, I like beer!

    RT
    http://www.whos-watching.se.tc

  6. I should point out that I do agree with the sentiment that the government doesn’t need any more money. However, I really think that the Democratic overreach is going to cause a backlash against big government / high taxes in the next few years, and another “Reagan revolution” or something similar will happen with regard to fiscal policy.

    I view the changing voters’ minds on “sin” as being a harder sell. Combined with the fact that illegal consensual activities result in jail / prison time, I can’t help but view these as more onerous.

  7. The newest tradition at the Kennedy compound is doing shots out of the cancer-hole in Ted’s head.

  8. Yea, yea, it’s always the puritan Republicans that punish the sinners.

  9. I am definitely drinking more these days, though not because of any particular concern for the uninsured.

  10. Homebrewers for liberty. W00t.

  11. I’ll continue to buy my beer by the quart. But will I still get a free paper bag to hold it?

  12. Who are these 50 million uninsured?

    The US Census Bureau estimated in 2007 that there were 45.7 million uninsured.

    Almost 18 million of the uninsured make more than $50,000 a year. They are usually relatively young and don’t feel the need for health insurance. They would rather spend their money on other things. Why should we, the tax payers pick up the tab for these people who can afford to pay for health insurance on their own?

    10 million of the uninsured aren’t American citizens.

    As many as 14 million are low-income and already covered under Medicaid or SCHIP but for whatever reason have not enrolled in these available services.

    Doing the math, that leaves 5.2 million. Doesn’t it make more sense to reform the health care system to make it more competitive to bring down prices of health care and insurance so more people can afford it rather than to put our country on a socialized medicine program that has been a big failure in every country it’s ever been tried? We need to undo state mandates that have driven up the cost of health insurance. More states need to allow lower priced catastrophic policies. People need to be allowed to purchase insurance across state lines. We need reform of tort law. We need a voucher program for the poor. There are lots of things we can do to make health care more competitive and lower priced without adopting a disastrous socialized medicine system.

  13. Numbers, bookworm, numbers. That’s all you have. Don’t you care about the people’s dignity?
    You must belong to The Party Of No.* Say hello to Dick Cheney for me (yuk yuk).

    *??2009, Democrat Party. All rights reserved, if not abrogated entirely.

  14. Is it too late to take it all back, this loose talk about legalizing “vices” and then taxing them?

    Never too late, Nick. I am still scratching my head on where that crazy talk “taxing (the shit out of) them” and regulating the shit out of them came from.

    Just don’t take back the legalizing part.

    Those calling for compromise? The real compromise here is that the Liberals just want more things taxed. That is all. The only time it seems they want something legal is to tax it.

  15. Wheat? Check
    Grapes? Check
    Knowledge? Check

    Dammit, I’m gonna need some hops.

  16. Just one more in the list of taxes on people who make less than $250 K a year in direct contradiciton of Obama’s promise.

  17. This is nothing more than social engineering through taxation. It’s just convenient that they have vehicles to push this that people feel guilty about. As an avid cigar smoker I was apoplectic over SCHIP, but now they’re going after alcohol in the name of health care?

    I’m not really sure how anybody can deny what this is any more. The neo-prohibitionists/class warefare goons in elected office have figured out how to kill two birds with one stone here.

  18. Let’s see, John…

    Taxation and regulation versus:

    200,000+ Americans in prison who have not used force nor fraud against others.
    The 4th Amendment becoming valueless
    The 5th Amendment becoming valueless
    The 8th Amendment becoming valueless
    The Posse Comitatus Act becoming valueless
    $40 billion+ spent annually to achieve all of the above.

    Sorry, I’m willing to compromise.

  19. You’d think this would be a colossally stupid move on the Democrats’ part, because they seem to have a tremendous contempt for their supporters. However, their supporters, especially Obamatrons, seem to let them get away with anything…so why wouldn’t they have contempt?

    We see if they get punished in 2010–and even if they do, how much gets rolled back.

  20. “Numbers, bookworm, numbers. That’s all you have. Don’t you care about the people’s dignity?
    You must belong to The Party Of No.* Say hello to Dick Cheney for me (yuk yuk).”

    No, I’m a libertarian who votes straight Libertarian.

    In what way do I not care about people’s dignity, ed? Do the socialists with their rationing of health care services, who care more about the cost of health care than saving lives, care about people’s dignity?

  21. Please … did you guys think that Democrats like Barney Frank support legalization because they believe in liberty and freedom?

  22. What MNG said.

    As expected, Our Masters have dropped the bit about legalizing and kept the bit about taxing.

    435 heads on the Capitol lawn is sounding better all the time.

    Dammit, I’m gonna need some hops.

    Mostly, you’re going to need barley.

  23. I think ed’s with you bookworm. The Democratic Party copyright at the bottom of his post sums it up pretty good.

  24. Instead of all these piecemeal taxes on smokes, sodas and beer, just roll it all into one consolidated idiot tax on the 53% of voters who pulled the lever for Obama last November.

    They are, after all, the real source of the problem.

  25. Lighten up, bookworm. Ed was using humor to make the point that Libs don’t care about facts.

    Stolid earnestness in the face of supportive literary devices does your cause no good. Given the electoral success of the L.P., though, you really couldn’t do them much harm.

  26. Alcoholism treatment facilities will now be a major cause of rising numbers of the uninsured.
    Since alcoholics consume the major portion of alcohol sold in the US, government must at once close down all treatment facilities and declare dipsomania a boon to universal healthcare coverage.

  27. Ryan,

    This is nothing more than social engineering through taxation. It’s just convenient that they have vehicles to push . . .

    That is the next step in green transportation and universal health care.

  28. Almost 18 million of the uninsured make more than $50,000 a year. They are usually relatively young and don’t feel the need for health insurance.

    This is a classic case of intentional mislabeling. Those people are not “uninsured”, they’re “self-insured”.

    But our overlords want to see young healthy people subsidizing health care for old sick people. Because they believe in fairness. [Drink!]

  29. What’s the tax on bacon-wrapped filet mignon?

  30. Time to dust off the carboys and racking canes and get re-acquainted with guys down at Homebrew Headquarters again.

  31. Mostly, you’re going to need barley.

    Don’t forget honey, lots o’ honey!

  32. Don’t forget honey, lots o’ honey!

    Dammit, is this a cereal commercial reference? 😀

  33. Dammit, is this a cereal commercial reference?

    Mead, you ingorant twit 😉

  34. Because they believe in fairness. [Drink!]

    At this rate, I’m gonna black out, I swear.

    Guess it’s time to start the homebrewing… and will second kinnath’s recommendation about mead.

  35. This is off topic, but last night on the news shows regarding the conceal carry in national parks the talking heads kept referring to the “pro-gun” lobby. All I could think of was that what these obfuscating bastards really meant was the pro-second amendment lobby. Bastards, bastards, bastards.

  36. Ship’s sinkin.

    Learn to homebrew and fuck the taxman.

  37. The previous article wasn’t wrong,

    Yes it was. It was boneheadedly STOOOOPID.

  38. Why is Congress even discussing this? Don’t they know that President Obama will be compelled to veto any budget including a beer tax, given his promise not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year?

  39. Russ 2000 – You can argue that the argument in the previous article won’t help to achieve and end to the WoD, but keep in mind that the target audience was not libertarians.

  40. I, for one, am excited.

    “The Second Whiskey Rebellion” sounds a lot more fun than another “Tea Party”.

  41. Argh. I say it’s time someone put a ‘tax’ on politicians and just started randomly shooting them every so often.

    Something needs to be done to make it more expensive to be a politician.

  42. one consolidated idiot tax on the 53% of voters who pulled the lever for Obama last November

    Let’s put an 80-90% tax rate on Democrats. They generally say they want higher taxes. It’s long past time we made these motherfuckers put their money where their mouths are. Put up, or shut up time, dickless Democrats.

  43. “They generally say they want higher taxes”

    Indeed they do – on somebody other than themselves, of course.

  44. Uh, Nick, you really can’t go and argue that we can legalize drugs and then tax them, then get whiny a few days later when people talk about taxing alcohol. It doesn’t work both ways.

    I support legalizing just about all the drugs, going beyond marijuana to include the harder drugs like cocaine. I also agree that focusing on beer rather than wine reeks of class discrimination. However, I also feel our government has the right to tax these items. If you don’t want to pay the tax, just avoid using the product.

  45. I don’t mind paying more in taxes for beer, wine, whiskey, etc. I also wouldn’t mind paying taxes on drugs, gambling, or prostitution (not that I do any of that).

    Taxes should be raised on those “vices” rather than raised on incomes, since it’s generally beneficial for our nation when people have higher incomes, and it’s not beneficial for our nation to have more people drinking, etc. The “sin” tax (or carbon taxes that discourage overconsumption of fossil fuels) seem much more logical to me than income taxes and sales taxes.

    Where in the Constitution does it say I have the right to cheap beer? Government making us pay more for something is not the same as taking our freedom away. And freedom isn’t free anyway.

  46. “Where in the Constitution does it say I have the right to cheap beer?”

    Where in the Constitution does it say that government has any authority to establish a mandatory participation health care system?

  47. “Where in the Constitution does it say I have the right to cheap beer?”

    First Amendment, Freedom of Speech.

    And nothing frees my tongue better than a case of cheap beer.

  48. If you don’t want to pay the tax, just avoid using the product.

    You’ll excuse me for being uncouth, but the only response I can come up with to such a statement so offensive to the ideas of liberty is a heartily-offered “FUCK YOU, PAL.”

  49. Government making us pay more for something is not the same as taking our freedom away. And freedom isn’t free anyway.

    “The power to tax is the power to destroy.”

    -Chief Justice John Marshall

  50. I listened to a podcast this morning on decriminalization of drugs in Portugal. It went into the debate over introducing reforms, as well as the results of the decriminalization. This was at unapologetically cosmotarian Cato. NO MENTION OF TAXATION! Lowered crime, yes. Better health treatments, yes. Freeing cops to pursue violent crimes, yes. All the traditional benefits were listed. Including TAX SAVINGS! But no talk of tax increases.

    People sniped yesterday that the only way you can get liberals on board the legalization train was to talk to them about higher taxes. Did the world change last week or something? I thought liberals were in favor of less crime, elimination of narcotics related police corruption, funds freed up for treatment programs, getting addicts into those programs, etc. I though legalization was a social justice issue. So why do we have to pander to liberals about opportunities to raise taxes? Make those taxes high enough and you lose the crime reduction benefits as you create a new black market to replace the old.

  51. As expected, Our Masters have dropped the bit about legalizing and kept the bit about taxing.

    Well duh!

    And they call me naive for opposing taxes…

  52. “Not one thin dime…in fact %95 of Americans will get a tax cut”

    SUCKERS !!!!!

  53. Learn to homebrew and fuck the taxman.

    How’d that work out for the roll-your-own cigarette crowd? I upped the tax on bulk tobacco %1700 and taxed the rolling papers too.

    SUCKERS !!!

  54. Hey MediaGeek,

    How the hell is what I said anti-liberty. Hell, excise taxes are the libertarian tax. You can choose whether or not to buy most products. Isn’t that what we’re all about here: CHOICE?

    It sure beats the hell out of income taxes for us non-smokers and non-drinkers.

  55. I upped the tax on bulk tobacco %1700

    Not relevant to home brew . . . the ingredients for home brew are “food” by another name. There is no way to tax home brewers (except maybe for hops) that wouldn’t have a direct impact on food prices.

  56. Gotta a pretty nice cider going in the basement that started with 100% apple juice and raw cane sugar from Hawaii. All picked up in the grocery section at Target.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.