Because it's always happy hour at Jr Deputy Accountant, we offer you something to argue about at the bar. And, no, we're not picking up your tab.
Drink up, America. The government needs the money.More revenue for ailing states, collected voluntarily from the willing? Not the worst thing. Fewer governmental restrictions on the availability of the product in question? Sounds like a good thing.
With cities across the country facing their fifth straight year of declining revenues and states cutting services and laying off workers, raising money from people who enjoy a cocktail is becoming an increasingly attractive option.
Since the recession started in earnest in 2008, dozens of states and cities have tinkered with laws that regulate alcohol sales as a way to build up their budgets.
Twelve states have raised taxes on alcohol or changed alcohol laws to increase revenue, including Maryland, which in July pushed the sales tax on alcohol to 9 percent, from 6 percent — the first such increase in 38 years and one that is expected to bring in $85 million a year.
In November, voters in Atlanta and elsewhere in Georgia will decide whether to repeal colonial-era laws that ban alcohol sales on Sunday.
Well, not to everyone, apparently.
“Lawmakers are taking a very short-sided view,” said David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “What they gain in short-term tax revenue they are losing in long-term police costs, emergency room costs and work-force readiness costs in terms of the Monday morning effect.”"Short-sided"? Was Kim Severson drunk when she wrote this? (Try "short-sighted"; works better with "view.") Jernigan must have been drunk, though I doubt it, when he argued for less available, higher-taxed booze. That's a lose-lose, and we can't let things end that way.
Like many public health officials, Mr. Jernigan does not support government efforts that increase the availability of alcohol, but he does support raising sales tax as a way to make people drink less.
Taxes do not always slow things down at happy hour, however. Because there is not a good substitute for alcohol, state officials are banking on the fact that people will simply pay more or drink cheaper brands.Tell the public what it wants to hear, and get the dirty work done. In politics, that's a win-win.
“These are kind of antitax times, so it’s tough to raise any kind of tax, but this is one they might have more success with,” said Mark Stehr, an associate professor of economics at Drexel University in Philadelphia who has studied the effects of taxes and other regulations on cigarettes and alcohol.
“Legislators can say it’s to protect health and reduce drunk driving, and that’s what can draw support, but the real motivation is revenue,” he said.