20 May 2011

The Baltimore Sun Endorses the Alcohol Tax Increase

In an editorial published online Wednesday, the Baltimore Sun ran an editorial essay stating its approval of the pending increase in the alcohol sales tax from the standard sales tax of 6% to 9%:

Indeed, the best research available suggests that the tax increase will reduce alcohol consumption in Maryland, particularly among underage drinkers, who are particularly price sensitive. Public health researchers say that will have a host of benefits, from reduced drunken-driving fatalities to lower rates of domestic violence.
But looking at things from a consumer's perspective, the tax increase, paradoxically, may be the best thing to happen in years. It will mean that alcohol is slightly more expensive, but it also signifies the most significant crack yet in the all-powerful Annapolis liquor lobby. Taken in conjunction with the passage of a bill to allow direct shipment of wine to consumers, this year could mark a turning point that leads to greater consumer choice, more competition and, perhaps, even lower prices.
Heavy Seas owner (and Maryland microbrewery pioneer) Hugh Sisson posted a brilliant, pointed response to this editorial, drawing off the oft-cited (and now erroneous, as far as this law now stands) emphasis that this tax was designed to "offset" the social costs of alcohol abuse:
Looking at the consensus of the comments [posted to the online version] it appears that almost no one was fooled by the "do gooder" sentiment of the editorial.  Truth is, the alcohol beverage industry was an easy target for the PC oriented who control Annapolis - they finally wore the industry down.  Who is next?  If you think they are done you are crazy.  I won't believe they are done until they balance the budget with tax cuts not increases.
How about a special tax on the paper used to print newspapers - to help off set all the costs associated with recycling and trash clean up?

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