Governments turn People into Addicts to generate Tax Revenue

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 4th, 2014

Week in Review

During the days of the British Empire Great Britain had a problem.  They loved Chinese tea.  But the British had nothing the Chinese wanted in trade.  Except for one thing.  Silver.  Hard money.  Which was a problem for Britain.  They were running out of hard money.  So they came up with an ingenious way to solve that problem.  By getting as many Chinese hooked on opium as possible.  So they could trade Indian grown opium for Chinese tea.  It worked out great for the British.  But the Chinese didn’t like it.  And fought two opium wars with the British.  Which did not end well for them.

North Korea has a hard money problem, too.  And they, too, turned to drugs.  Crystal meth.  Which North Korea manufactured in state-run labs.  Destined for China.  Where they tried to get as many people addicted to crystal meth as possible.  So they can sell it in exchange for Chinese currency.  Which they could use to buy Chinese food.  To help ward off famine in North Korea.  This worked pretty well for North Korea.  But only gave China another addiction problem.

In the United States the government found other ways to raise revenue.  The first two big sources of addiction-revenue were cigarette and alcohol taxes.  But it soon proved not enough.  They then got people addicted to playing the lottery.  When that revenue proved to be insufficient they then got people addicted to casino gambling.  But government spending had grown so great that this revenue was still not enough.  So the government is looking at other things to get people addicted to (see Why Legalizing Marijuana Is a Smart Fiscal Move by Bruce Bartlett, The Fiscal Times, posted 1/3/2014 on Yahoo! News).

Perhaps the dominant factor driving marijuana legalization is the desperate search for new revenue by cash-strapped state governments. The opportunity to tax marijuana is potentially a significant source of new revenue, as well as a way of cutting spending on prisons and law enforcement. The California Secretary of State’s office, for example, estimates savings in the hundreds of millions of dollars from both factors. The following summary is from a proposed state ballot initiative in California (No. 1617)…

It is not surprising that revenue considerations should be critical in the marijuana legalization movement. That was previously the reason why cigarettes were not banned until the 1920s despite a strong nationwide movement to do so. In the wake of Prohibition, governments simply needed cigarette tax revenue too badly. And when Prohibition ended, the need for new revenue after the Great Depression decimated government budgets was a driving force.

Indeed, according to author Daniel Okrent, expectations of the revenue from taxing legal liquor were so great in 1932 that some people thought it might permit the repeal of income taxes. It’s worth remembering that in 1900, taxes on alcohol and cigarettes constituted half of all federal revenues. Indeed, the only reason Prohibition was possible in the first place was that the income tax established in 1913, which was greatly expanded by World War I, would replace the revenue lost from the liquor tax after Prohibition.

There have been no great cuts to revenue like that following Prohibition.  Government spending has just grown so great that it far exceeds the nation’s ability to pay for it with current taxes and borrowing.  So they are looking to make people addicted to marijuana to help pay for their large public sectors.  As well as their vote-buying welfare state.  And when this proves insufficient they can turn to other sources of revenue.  Such as decriminalizing and taxing heroin.  Cocaine.  Crack.  Crystal meth.  Opium.  Even prostitution.  People are already doing these things.  So they can’t be any worse than marijuana.  As long as only responsible adults indulge in these activities.  Just as only responsible adults will smoke marijuana in Colorado.  For think of the tax revenue heroin, cocaine, crack, crystal meth and opium could generate.  For those drugs are really addictive.  And just think how much old rich men would enjoy 18 year old prostitutes.  Prostitution would be a booming business to tax.  These young women could generate great tax revenue for the government by just doing what consenting adults want to do.

We could do these things to find new sources of revenue.  Or we could NOT make people addicts.  Or NOT sell women into prostitution.  Instead we could cut the size of the public sector and the welfare state.  So we can cut spending.  Which would eliminate the need to produce new tax revenue in the first place.  Allowing people to keep their hard-earned money instead of handing it over to the government.  To pay for generous pensions and retiree health care for others.

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LESSONS LEARNED #84: “The bigger and more complex government gets the more unintended the consequences.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 22nd, 2011

Prohibition had Popular Support from Wives, Progressives and Organized Crime

The Progressive movement began changing our lives in the beginning of the 20th century.  Thanks in large part to the American Civil War.  After a generation of American fathers were killed by the ravishes of war a lot of sons grew up without a manly role model in their lives.  They had no father to learn manly chores from.  To go hunting with.  To beat the crap out of them when they misbehaved.  To toughen them up for the real world.  Instead all they got was the loving and nurturing stuff from their mothers.  And when they grew up they wanted to be mothers, too.  And nurture the American people.  For mother knows best.

When these children grew up they changed government.  Instead of it being the limited government of their fathers they wanted an activist one.  To make our lives better.  More fair.  And safer.  Which is why they supported the temperance movement.  And took it to Prohibition.  To save the American family.  To stop drunken husbands from beating their wives.  To prevent poverty by keeping the money in the family.  And out of the saloons.   To stop the epidemic of venereal disease.  Spread by prostitutes who frequented saloons.  Trying to get some of that family paycheck.  Before the saloon owner got it all.  So Prohibition had popular support.  From wives.  Progressives.  And organized crime.

This was an unintended consequence of Prohibition.  For the law prohibited “the manufacture, sale, or transportation” of booze.  But not the drinking of it.  And when there’s a will there’s a way.  There were people who still wanted to drink.  And could without facing any consequences for it if caught by the law.  So they kept drinking.  And there was a booming demand.  And a willing albeit illegal supply network to meet that demand.  So life was good.  For those who liked to indulge in inebriating beverages.  And for those who provided those inebriating beverages.  Especially the providers.  Because when you make anything illegal that is in high demand means only one thing.  High profits.

There’s a Profit Incentive for Criminals because Illegal Stuff Costs More than Legal Stuff

At first everyone laughed as they flaunted the law.  It was, after all, a victimless crime.  People wanted to buy.  And the underworld wanted to sell.  No harm.  No foul.  For awhile.  Until the gang violence spilled over into the public streets.  When innocents saw this violence up close and personal.  Some even dying in the crossfire.  Like in Chicago.  Owned for a time by Al Capone.  King of the bootleggers.  Who killed off the competition.  The Valentine’s Day Massacre being the tipping point.  When the cops started fighting back.

The FBI eventually got Capone.  On tax evasion.  But it didn’t end the violence.  You know what did?  The repeal of the 18th Amendment.  And letting the people drink again.  Which they really needed during the depressing New Deal programs of FDR.

By decriminalizing alcohol they removed the profit incentive for criminals.  Because illegal stuff costs more than legal stuff.  So there’s no market for bootlegged liquor anymore.  So the gangs turned to another illegal substance.  Drugs.  Whose criminalization has far worse unintended consequences than Prohibition ever had.  We can trace most violent crime in the U.S. to drugs.  From theft to support a drug habit.  To Capone style gang warfare to protect turf.  To the unspeakable horrors on and south of the US-Mexican border.

The Decriminalization of Drugs:  Damned if We Do.  And Damned if We Don’t.

So what is one to do?  Decriminalize drugs?  Not quite the same thing as ending prohibition.  Drugs are a little more potent than alcohol.  Especially methamphetamine.  Crystal meth addiction destroys lives.  Which is why it’s such a lucrative drug.  You can manufacture it anywhere from chemicals.  And it’s addictive.  Addiction provides a steady demand.  And its chemistry provides a readily available supply.  That you can hide.  Unlike Coca fieldsPoppy fields.  Or marijuana fields.

Meth has a strong foothold in the drug-taking community.  Despite it being illegal.  One shudders what would happen if we decriminalized drugs.  Like meth.  It’s potent.  Addictive.  And popular with the kids.  It takes a fake ID to buy alcohol when underage.  Because there are few pushers selling cases of beer and wine coolers on the street.  But if an adult can buy it legally it could be hard for a drug dealer to pass up the underage market.  I mean, there are no empty bottles or cans to trace back to a store.  And if you’re caught carrying, hey, it isn’t illegal.

So we’re damned if we do.  And damned if we don’t.  The war on drugs has a devastating cost on society.  But the drugs are so harmful.  And helping users break their addiction also costs society.  Broken families.  Lost jobs and careers.  Children addicts can no longer provide for.  Infectious disease.  Overdose.  Violence.  Criminal activity.  And decriminalizing drugs won’t make any of that better.

The Poorer You are and the More Children You Have the More Money You Get on Your EBT

America has been fighting another war.  A war on poverty.  Which probably has been more destructive than the war on drugs.  Economist Thomas Sowell blames the welfare state for the destruction of the black family.  By subsidizing failure.  Providing incentives not to succeed.  A disincentive to be responsible.  The very programs to help the poor have destroyed the poor.  With unintended consequences that have destroyed generations.

This video was from 1980.  Fast forward to today and you can see this put in another way.  Perhaps a little less elegantly.  But it reinforces Dr. Sowell’s argument.  There’s a video on YouTube that praises the EBT card in California.  A program to help poor single people with children.  Depending on the number of children and your circumstances, the government loads a dollar amount on the EBT card.  You then use it like a debit card.  At any store that accepts EBT.  The government then reimburses the store owners.

So the poorer you are and the more children you have the more money you get on your EBT card.  As Dr. Sowell pointed out, this may be a disincentive to be responsible.  And the YouTube video shows this.  We should note, though, that the rapper who made this video said that “it was meant to be satirical and poke fun at a real issue.”  Some have called it inappropriate.  You can judge for yourself after you watch the video.  (NOTE:  If you’re at work or are in a public place you probably should wait until you get home to watch this video.  It contains very graphic language (as in the ‘f’ word).  And may be racially insensitive.  Please exercise due discretion when viewing It’s Free, Swipe Yo EBT.)

Government may have Meant Well but the Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

Prohibition made it harder to manufacture and distribute alcohol.  But people still drank.  Because it wasn’t illegal to drink.  At first it was just a game.  Imbibing at the speakeasy.  Then buildings exploded.  And bodies littered the street.  Much like they are in Mexico today.  And along the US-Mexican border.  Because well organized enterprises are trying to meet a lucrative demand north of the border.  That our drug policies made lucrative.  Just like Prohibition made bootlegging a lucrative business.

Unintended consequences are a bitch.  And whenever government tries to fix something we often get something worse.  Prohibition and our war on drugs have given us organized crime to deal with.  And our war on poverty has destroyed poor families.  By incentivizing irresponsible behavior.   And making generations dependent on government.

At every time, though, government meant well.  They always say that they had nothing but good intentions.  But we should remember what they say about good intentions.  That the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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Drug Violence on our Southern Border and Catcalls in New York City are Related – Societal Decay Responsible for Both

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 30th, 2010

The drug cartel violence crosses the U.S. border.  Beheaded body found in Phoenix, Arizona.

It’s getting a little violent on this side of the U.S. border.  The latest?  This from AP’s Amanda Lee Myers’ Arizona beheading raises fears of drug violence posted on apnews.myway.com:

The gruesome case of a man who was stabbed and beheaded in a suburban Phoenix apartment has police investigating whether the killing is potentially the most extreme example of Mexican drug cartel violence spilling over the border.

The police think the victim was stealing drugs from the cartel.  And this was a message to others who might be thinking about doing likewise. 

Decapitations are a regular part of the drug war in Mexico as cartels fight over territory. Headless bodies have been hanged from bridges by their feet, severed heads have been sent to victims’ family members and government officials, and bags of up to 12 heads have been dropped off in high-profile locations.

The crime appears confined to members of the drug trade.  It’s a little reassuring for the innocent bystanders close to the crime.  ‘Little’ being the key word.

“I’m terrified,” said [a neighbor], a 47-year-old housekeeper who lives two doors down from the apartment. “I’ve lived here for 20 years and I’ve never heard of that (decapitation) happening, and it was so close to us … Maybe they’re copying what’s happening in Mexico.”

But it hasn’t been exactly restricted to the drug trade.  There has been some collateral damage. 

While extreme violence has stayed south of the border for the most part, some of it has spilled over into the U.S.

In March, Arizona rancher Robert Krentz was gunned down while checking water lines on his property near the border. Authorities believe – but have never produced substantive proof – that an illegal immigrant, likely a scout for drug smugglers, was to blame for his killing.

In May 2009, a Mexican drug cartel lieutenant who became an informant for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was shot eight times outside his pricey home in El Paso. The lieutenant, Jose Daniel Gonzalez Galeana, was living in Texas on a visa that ICE gave him, and is believed to be the first ranking cartel member killed in the U.S.

Payan described the spillover as minimal, but said it could increase.

And what is the federal government doing to address border security?  Suing Arizona.  And putting up some signs that warn Americans about unsafe American territory.

Whistles, catcalls and lewd come-ons on the rise in New York City.  Young girls harassed near their schools.

In a serious news story about women being harassed on the streets of New York (see AP’s NYC Considers a No Catcall Zone posted on www.nbcnewyork.com on 10/29/2010), the article starts off with a most inappropriate photo.  It shows a woman’s feet in what appears to be 6-inch stiletto heels.  The kind of shoes you’d see a stripper wear on stage.  Or so I’ve heard.  One thing for certain, though, any man looking at the photo is going to imagine a smoking hot woman attached to those feet.  The kind of a woman that burly construction workers would whistle at.  And, to be fair, a woman dressed like THAT may be disappointed if they didn’t.  So it’s a rather poor choice of a photo to use with this article.  For although we know:

Whistles, catcalls and lewd come-ons from strangers are all too familiar to New York City women, who say they are harassed multiple times a day as they walk down the street.

Some men are clearly crossing the line. 

A City Council committee heard testimony Thursday from women who said men regularly follow them, yell at them and make them feel unsafe and uncomfortable. Advocates told stories of preteens and teenagers being hounded by adult men outside city schools and pleaded for government to address the problem.

And what is the city of New York doing about this issue?

Hollaback [an organization formed five years ago to stand up to street harassment] is pushing the city to commission a study, a public awareness campaign and perhaps even legislation, including “no-harassment zones” around schools to protect young women.

Madonna, Brittany Spears and Glee go too far in sexualizing young girls?

Now, what do these two stories have in common?  Although the victims aren’t responsible for the crime/harassment against them, the society that they are a part of is.

The Left wants to give condoms to our kids.  And make abortions available when a pregnancy happens.  We need to be progressive.  Kids are having sex.  We need to stop being so puritan and treat our kids as adults.  Like the television show Glee does.  In that show adults play high school kids.  And their audience is primarily high school kids and younger.  They’ve had some pretty questionable content on that show.  Madonna and Brittany Spears video parodies.  And they’ve appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, dressed as high school kids.  But you could look up one of the girls’ skirt and see her little white panties.  And the same ‘girl’ just did a GQ photo shoot, posing inside a high school.  Again, showing her little white panties.   Of course, these kids are really adults. But they play kids. 

The Left attacks the world of Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best & Ozzie and Harriet.  But you gotta admit this; they didn’t objectify women.  You didn’t see any of them sexualizing young girls.  And New York City didn’t have council meetings discussing possible legislation banning catcalls around schools.

Marijuana, cocaine, heroin and crystal meth supplied by Mexico to meet demand in the United States.

They’re trying to legalize marijuana again in California.  They say it’s no big deal.  It’s no worse than drinking.  And all that talk about it being a gateway drug to the stronger stuff?  That’s just ridiculous.  Then again, that stronger stuff is crossing the border along with the marijuana.  Which begs the question, why?  Who’s using the harder stuff?  People who’ve moved on from marijuana? 

The vast majority of drugs coming in from Mexico and causing all that trouble on the border is marijuana.  There’s big money in Mexican marijuana.  And it will get bigger and bloodier if California legalizes it.  More customers.  And lower prices (legal things tend to be cheaper than illegal things).  The drug gangs will fight to expand their territory.  And fight to not lose any of their territory.  So there’s marijuana.  Also coming in from Mexico is cocaine, black tar heroin and, of course, crystal meth.  Meth is a booming business since they restricted the sale of decongestants in the states.  They have factories in Mexico creating this stuff wholesale.  And shipping it to the United States.  Why?  Because we keep saying drugs are no big deal.

Sex and drugs responsible for societal decay?

Sex and drugs.  Everybody does it/them.  We need to accept it.  Treat kids as adults.  And when there are consequences to this behavior, we play the blame game.  It’s not school condoms and abortion on demand that is making people look at girls/women as sexual objects.  It’s men acting as animals.  For girls/women it’s empowering and liberating.  But it’s primitive animal behavior for men.  Of course, women can’t be empowering or liberating sexually without men.  So men are obliging.  And they’re apparently thinking about it all of the time.  Even when working on a construction site.

And when it comes down to pointing the finger of blame for the border violence, I don’t know if we can point it at just the drug gangs.  I mean, they wouldn’t be doing what they are doing if it wasn’t for all those Americans eagerly looking to buy what they are selling.

So, when men whistle at a girl/woman, or there is a drug-gang murder on the border, society’s to blame.  And it’s important to emphasize that the individual victims themselves are not responsible.  It is the societal decay that has preconditioned the predator.   They think it’s all right.  Because everyone is having sex.  And doing drugs.

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