Jewish World Review
Nov. 3, 2009/ 16 Mar-Cheshvan 5770
Bad idea on tap
Here's a shot to the beer gut: Government bodies across America are increasing taxes on beer.
According to ABC News, states from Connecticut to Arkansas are "eyeing higher taxes on cigarettes and booze" to make up for budget shortfalls caused by the recession.
Now, I'm not entirely against paying taxes to fund government programs.
I like driving around on the wide-open highways that my tax contributions helped build.
I'm grateful for the government-backed loans that got me through my beer-slugging days at Penn State (to paraphrase comedian Frank Nicotero, I graduated with a 1.2 … blood-alcohol level).
I'm happy for the government agencies that protect our borders, track down criminals across state lines and make sure our food and water are safe.
But higher taxes on beer?
Why not increase taxes on hot dogs and apple pie while we're at it?
Look, Congress cracked open this Pandora's can in 1991 when it doubled the federal beer tax to $18 a barrel.
Many states have long been on the beer wagon.
In 1936, Pennsylvania levied a "temporary" 10-percent alcohol tax to relieve victims of that year's Johnstown flood.
Flood victims still aren't relieved: The tax is not only still in effect, it has been increased to 18 percent.
At the local level, many cities and counties are looking to raise beer taxes, too.
Here's how people order drinks in Allegheny County: "Give me a bourbon, Johnny, and a 7-percent drink-tax chaser."
I take such taxes personally.
My great-grandmother took the edge off Prohibition by installing a distillery in her basement.
My grandfather helped local merchants survive the Depression by investing generously in local watering holes.
I helped my father survive the Carter administration by retrieving ice-cold bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon as he and our next-door neighbor sat on the back porch.
It is simply un-American to tax beer. And it doesn't do much good in any event.
According to records from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, says ABC News, the 1991 federal beer tax "created a slight bump in revenues in 1992, followed by four years of decline, from nearly $3.9 billion to $3.6 billion."
What's that, you say? Higher taxes lead to lower revenues?
The fact is that beer does our society good particularly in the midst of a nasty global downturn.
By looking forward to a happy-hour respite each Friday, workers are more productive during the week a needed boost to our ailing economy.
Moderate beer consumption can reduce one's chances of heart and vascular disease is not beer essential to reducing our health care costs?
More beer consumption will help solve our long-term liabilities.
Beer causes people to think others are more attractive than they are and to marry and procreate we need their offspring to fund my Social Security payments.
It isn't the fault of beer drinkers that state, county and local governments spent like drunken sailors when the economy was booming.
It will do nobody any good to make up their shortfall by taxing beer.
If governments really want to raise funds, why not tax the avarice and stupidity that caused our markets to expand and crash?
Why not tax some of the dumb ideas coming out of Washington?
Such a tax would produce a windfall. At the same time it would curb truly "sinful" behavior.
Show me an American who won't raise his beer mug to that.
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© 2009, Tom Purcell