As the Taxman Played "Night of the Johnstown Flood"


KDKA-TV tells the tale of an emergency tax passed to rebuild the flood-wrecked town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania:

The old newsreel videos of the Johnstown Flood of 1936 are certainly terrifying as residents flee the rising river. The aftermath left a city destroyed with 30,000 homeless.

With such carnage apparent, Pennsylvania enacted the Johnstown Flood Tax, a tax on every bottle of alcohol purchased in the state. It was enacted to rebuild the city.

"By 1942, they had sufficient funds to rebuild the city," says State Rep. Jim Marshall, R-Beaver Falls.

At which point, of course, the tax was repealed.

Oops, sorry, a typo slipped in there. When I wrote "repealed," I meant to say "kept in place and eventually hiked, with the proceeds diverted from the flood victims to the general fund."

Nearly 70 years after Johnstown was rebuilt, the hidden flood tax adds 18 percent to the cost of buying alcohol in this state….This once temporary tax now generates $200 million a year for the general revenue fund, despite efforts by a few legislators like Marshall to repeal it.

[Via The Consumerist.]

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  1. It sounds like the people of Johnstown, Pennsylvania are a bunch of ungrateful teabagging rednecks. They're racists, straight up.

    1. Time's up. Get outta here.

      1. HOW ABOUT THIS?

        The people of Johnstown, Pennsylvania are a bunch of [EMPIRE] that don't understand the [Israeli-American Power Pact] that started their whole teabagging enterprise that left us all broke. The only way to [EMPIRE] this thing is to spend more money. [STRAIGHT UP]


        1. Much better!

    2. Having grown up in Johnstown, I can confirm that while there a lot of rednecks there, they are the window-smashin', tire-slashin', union-joinin', Democrat-votin' kind.

  2. Has Johnstown had another flood since the tax was passed? Of course not-so it sounds like the tax is working fine.

    1. There haven't been any tigers in Johnstown either. I'd say the tax is a double-bonus!

      1. So the 18% tax goes to the maintenance of the rock that keeps tigers away?

    2. Actually yes, 1977. So the tax-and-destroy button must be broken.

    1. It would be funnier if it wasn't something rather would actually post.

      1. The humor is in that I don't drink.

        1. *shivvers*

          1. Poor albo, never fucked sober. Too scared?

            1. never fucked sober

              That has to be the weirdest flame I've ever seen. Your mom must be very proud of your creativity. Yell upstairs and tell her.

              1. ewww

                You want to fuck my mother???????????

                No wonder you drink and fuck!!!!!

                1. "Yell upstairs and tell her."

                  rather lives in Mom's attic, not the basement.

    2. Having grown up in Johnstown, I can confirm that while there a lot of rednecks there, they are the window-smashin', tire-slashin', union-joinin', Democrat-votin' kind.
      @ I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being delivered to
      our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a
      46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get
      all this stuff, BetaSell.com

  3. The word "emergency" means something entirely different to government types than it does to... everyone else.

    1. Never Waste a Crisis! And you dopes thought I came up with that all by myself!

    2. Every day is an emergency for the government.

      1. On a serious note, I did a little research project where I went through newspaper archives and tried to find years (cherry picking years during the "good economy"-- 2003 etc) where the State didn't claim there was a budget crisis. Needless to say, it was very difficult.

  4. Kinda like how us Allegheny county residents pay a full percent more sales tax than the rest of the state to fund stadiums built over a decade ago.

    [idiot sports fans]"Hey, I got an idea, let's tax poor people and give the cash to the Rooney family! Go Steelers!" [/idiot sports fans]

    1. I try not to buy anything other than cars in Allegheny County, since the dealers only charge you sales tax based on your county of residence. Otherwise there wouldn't be a car dealer in the whole county.

  5. In 1981, Rockland County, New York implemented a "temporary" 2% sales tax to pay the cost of the trial of those involved in the robbery of a Brink's truck and the murder of a guard and two police officers. Almost 30 years later that tax is still in effect.

    1. the one that Barack's BFF Bill Ayer's BFF Kathy Boudin did? Oh well, she's paid her debt but everyone else has to keep paying.

      1. That's the one. She was a defiant "revolutionary" (her description, not mine) until the jury convicted her. She suddenly expressed contrition just in time to be sentenced.

        1. She was paroled a few years ago. She was lucky she didn't try to sell the cops marijuana or she might still be locked up.

          1. Obama's pals actually did some good, in 1981!

  6. I can't wait to pay off the Spainish-American war so we can end the tax on phones.

    It was temporary in that is was temporarily lower than it is now.

    1. Didn't we all get $40 a few years ago for that?

  7. You wouldn't want us to become the Anaheim Steelers, would you? Now shut up and pay up.

    1. We're so old and decrepit that we can't even handle nested comments.

  8. Wasn't the federal income tax a temporary measure to pay for WWI debt?

    1. No the income tax was instituted in 1913 4 years before WWI. There was one for the Civil War (War between the States) that was actually temporary but the progresives at the time and of course the government seemed to think that it was a great idea.

      1. "There was one for the Civil War (War between the States) that was actually temporary"

        And actually unconstitutional as well.

        1. And actually unconstitutional as well.

          Considering the draft, suspension of Habeas Corpus, and, oh yeah, a bloody assault on the south, I don't think they were much worried about the Constitution.

          1. Considering the Whiskey Rebellion and the Alien and Sedition Acts, I don't think they cared much for the Constitution from the get-go.

            1. The truth is that the constitution was forced down the throats of the founding generation by the holders of war bonds and their representatives.

        2. You're right which is why it was temporary until the 16th admendment.

      2. "(War between the States)"



        1. If I was a high school history teacher, I would devote the entire academic year to Dishonest Abe, the hero of Adolph Hitler and one of the greatest mass murderers of all time.

        2. Don't shoot at somebody if you can't stand to be shot at.

          1. Don't blockade people's harbors if you don't want to be shot at.

  9. Because alcohol is evil and drinkers deserve the taxes they have to pay.

    PA's liquor system is the last bastion of communism in the Western Hemisphere outside of Cuba, Berkeley, and the Harvard faculty lounge.

    1. I think it's changed now, but I once visited a college buddy of mine who was living in Pittsburgh and we had to go to a bar just to buy a six pack of beer to take back to his house. I was dumbfounded.

      1. I think it's changed now

        Ahh, naive Texan. It's the same now except there is an additional 7% beverage tax.

        1. I thought this same friend told me he could buy beer and wine at the grocery store now. I guess not.

          So I'm still dumbfounded.

          That said, the first time I saw hard liquor for sale in a California grocery store, I was similarly enthralled. Here in Texas you have to go to the liquor store and they're closed after 9:00pm and all day on Sundays.

          Not to mention that I grew up in a "dry" county in West Texas, so every time I go home to see my dad now and see beer in the grocery store and on restaurant menus I feel like I'm in bizarro world.

          1. You can buy wine at certain stores from a vending machine called a wine kiosk. Before you buy you must fellate the machine to ensure that you're not already intoxicated. A couple of giant eagle's have actually put a restaurant in the store to be ale to sell beer; sixers only. It sucks, more of a local novelty than a place to buy beer(though the huge flagship GE in Robinson has an excellent selection).

            1. We can buy hard liquor at gas stations out here in AZ, along with no permits needed for concealed weapons unless you want to pack in a bar/restaurant that serves booze.

              Somehow, civilization does not collapse and the streets do not flow with the blood of the innocent.

              1. I lived in Mesa, on University, for a spell. I remember going to the gas station one time and this crazy Mexican dude ran in and stole a case of beer, running out before anyone could do anything. I told the clerk, "Man, that'd NEVER happen in Pennsylvania."

                He replied with something obnoxious like, "What no beaners in Pee Eigh?"

                I said "Nope, no beer in gas stations"

      2. No, that's the same--six packs are only available at bars, but you can buy cases of beer at a beer distributor--but not six packs.

        It's that way because it removes competition and gives bars and distributors there own market share.

        Thus devoid of conpetition, you should see how many crappy bars and distributors are kept alive. It's crazy.

        And you should have heard how much beer distributors bitched when a new law allowed them to open on Sunday. They liked the old law because it gave them a day off. Now they all have to open.

        1. When I moved to Maine from Colorado I was shocked to see beer and wine for sale at the gas station... on Sunday!

        2. They "have" to open? The law mandates that? Or do you just mean "They have to open if they wish to compete against other beer distributors that are open at the same time", which is another matter entirely?

          1. I'm pretty sure it's the latter. That behavior and terminology sounds pretty typical of someone who's accustomed to restricted competition.

          2. Yeah, because they have to open or miss out on business from other distributors who opened.

            And all of them, in my area at least, have the same business hours. They all close at 9, even though the law says they can stay open later. Because they're a cartel--as long as they all cooperate, they all stay in business. It's been this way for decades. Such as scam.

        3. I remember hanging out for bit in Pennsylvania and being absolutely mystified by the liquor laws. You needed a damn map just to figure out how to get a six-pack.

          Insanity sauce.

      3. Speaking of crazy beer laws and Texas, half the fun of going to the Salt Lick back in the day was packing the cooler full of beer because it was in a dry county. Now they'll sell you beer, just don't serve it to you. I was disappoint when I went back this March.

    2. PA's liquor system is the last bastion of communism in the Western Hemisphere outside of Cuba

      Second to last.

    3. When someone suggests opening the market for beer, wine, and liquor, the PA liquor board freaks out and basically predicts drunken knife fights between 14 year-olds in the streets.

      Over the border in Ohio, you can buy beer and wine from gas stations, supermarkets, lemonade stands, the United Methodist Church, etc.

      1. Yeah, if you can fight your way through the knife-wielding 14 year-olds.

        1. Curses! I'll get you next time, "Paul"!

  10. Typical.

    That's kind of like that telephone tax enacted to pay for the Spanish American war. It went on for 108 years before it was finally killed.

  11. What's the story on that dog?

  12. Dry towns don't pay the flood tax. That's how fair this is.

    1. That is fair. If your town is not flooded why pay a flood tax.


    2. So you're telling me that it would be fair if the tiny town of Bomont had to pay an Earthquake tax brought on by all that dancing in the big city?

  13. Please do not vandalize our billboards. Thank you.

  14. The tax is needed in case those fat-cat capitalists decide to try and destroy Johnstown again!

    1. Does anybody have the stomach to watch this nice Michael Moore produced parody of the Koch brothers?


      1. Does anybody have the stomach to watch this nice Michael Moore produced parody of the Koch brothers?


        1. If Moore is in the video, I presume it was shot with an extremely wide angle lens.

    2. Those fat-cat capitalists...

      ...did indeed cause (through their neglect) the great Johnstown flood...of 1889.


  15. Long ago, taxes had to come with a moral justification.

    Now the only justification is who is taxed and how much revenue is generated.

  16. I was looking for beer in western PA a few weeks ago. I found a place and went inside. I desired a 12-pack of cans for a picnic. They had Budweiser @ about $12. Seemed kind of high for Bud. Then I saw another 12-pack of Bud a couple of shelves below for $9. Being a bright boy, I bought the $9 package, took it to the picnic and popped one open. Tasted OK, but something was amiss. The can didn't look quite right. It seemed...smaller. Turns out PA sells 12 oz. cans and 10 oz. cans. Beware.

    1. Those are meant for smaller hands.

      1. Ah. So they are thinking of The Children?.

  17. Johnstown is the worst place on Earth. The fact that God repeatedly smites it is powerful evidence for His existence, I must admit.

    1. The scenery is beautiful; the people can be nice; the politics are filthy; the culture, abysmal (although there is at least one high school that had an excellent music and musical theater program when I was there); it's a good place to be from. But most inhabitants are still members of the Church of Murtha.

      1. It was a great town before that lady sold the Chiefs.

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