Monday, April 13, 2009

The Beer Tax Propaganda Is Resorting To Forced Populism

Seems inevitable, I guess, but over the weekend the State Journal ran yet another editorial attempting justify support for a beer tax.

I'll be relatively brief this time, I just wanted to point it out. But here's the reason why they felt this deserved another editorial:
UW Health commissioned a statewide poll of 500 likely voters. The Mellman Group conducted the survey in late February and early March.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they favored an increase in the state beer tax if the proceeds were dedicated to stricter enforcement and prevention of drunken driving.
If you want to know more information about the Mellman Group, check this out:
During his time at The Mellman Group, Henry has developed substantial expertise on tobacco-control issues. ... In addition to his anti-tobacco work, Henry has conducted research for several other non-profit organizations and corporations, including the Sierra Club, the Trust for Public Land, Dr. Pepper/7Up, T-Mobile, and the American Medical Association’s Office of Alcohol and Other Drugs. ... He also served as a policy advisor and legislative aide to former Representative Doris Hanson in the Wisconsin State Assembly, working primarily on issues dealing with the state budget, tax policy and the state’s budget stabilization, or “rainy day” fund.
Thus, you can see, Mr. Mellman's an expert in using tax and budget policy to influence social policy. Not to mention that the report was commissioned by UW Health, conveniently, a group that would benefit pretty greatly under a system that gives tax funds to hospitals for prevention and treatment.

A higher tax on beer -- as well as wine and booze -- would simply charge a small user fee on drinkers to help pay for all the costly damage a small yet significant number of them cause.
At least they got the "wine and booze" in there - but this tax doesn't really address wine and booze, it is solely a proposal to increase the excise tax. Moreover, there's no mention of how much the increase would be. The 1100% that Oregon is proposing? If so, it's more than mere "pennies" but it's not just the "pennies" that are on the brewery costs. I hope Rob Larson, head brewer at Tyranena, forgives me from cutting and pasting liberally from his April e-newsletter:
Yet Higher Beer Prices Ahead? I hope not... Not after last year when exploding raw material costs raised the price of a 6-pack of our beer by $1.00. But if members of the State Legislature and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have their way... it could go up another $0.50 a six pack! These individuals are advocating raising the excise tax for beer from $2.00 a barrel to $10.00 a barrel to fund various alcohol abuse and law enforcement programs. They claim this tax increase will only add 2.4 cents to the cost of a bottle of beer... Of course, excise taxes are taxes paid by the brewery and passed along through the distribution chain. This would require us to charge $0.56 more per case... but since we price everything if $0.50 cent increments... it will ultimately be passed along to our wholesalers as a $1.00 increase (after all, we don't want to eat these increased costs). And, of course, our wholesalers and retailers will then pass along the increased costs along with their margins. So, our $1.00 per case increase will really show up to you, the consumer, as a $2.00 per case increase... or the $0.50 a six pack I previously mentioned. And then add another $0.03 for the additional sales tax!

Quite frankly, I don't think responsible beer drinkers should have to bear the burden of financial mismanagement... or excessive regulation. Instead of raising our taxes, perhaps they should try cutting costs. Novel thought... Might be easy to cut the total cost of law enforcement if 18 year olds were able to drink legally again... and probably eliminate 80 percent (made up that number) of underage drinking charges, which also cost dollars to prosecute.
Well said Mr. Larson.

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