Raising the beer tax -- "for the children!"

While I am not always successful, I often seek to understand what drives the mental processes of those who devote their lives to meddling with other people's lives.

Sometimes, though, these mental processes prove very difficult to understand, as I found when I read this report about a Michigan state task force which wants to raise taxes on beer -- in order to help the children!

The Michigan Child Welfare Improvement Task Force plans to recommend a higher tax on beer in Michigan, raising the tax from two to five cents per 12 ounces of beer, or about one can, in bars, grocery stores and wholesale stores. The money from the tax rate increase will go toward prevention programs for child abuse and neglect and to help children in the foster care system.

Patrick Babcock, a co-chair of the task force, said raising the taxes on beer would have a large impact on child abuse prevention programs.

"If the legislature were to adopt the five-cent proposal, we could raise as much as $110 million per year," Babcock said. "And for five cents on the bottle, we think it's a small amount to be able to protect our children."

Got that? Taxing beer protects children from child abuse!

That's because (according to Babcock) there's a connection between alcoholism and child abuse, so beer must therefore be the culprit!

Babcock added that the group chose to tax beer because of high trends of alcoholism among abusive or neglectful parents.

"There is a relationship between the ingestion of alcohol and child abuse and neglect," Babcock said. "Though it is not always the case, there is often alcohol involved in cases of child abuse and neglect."

How many of these alcoholic abusive parents drink beer, and how many of them would stop drinking beer (much less child abuse) because of a beer tax is not clear to me at all. Most of the alcoholics I've known have not been content with beer. So why single it out?

Fortunately, the beer tax faces opposition in the state senate, but it never ceases to amaze me the way people make these tenuous connections by plugging in their favorite causes. No doubt feminists could claim there's a correlation between alcohol and rape, and demand another beer tax for rape crisis centers. Perhaps MADD could get in on the tax action (if they're not already).

If you think Michigan bureaucrats are crazy, in Oregon they're proposing to raise the beer tax a whopping 1,900% -- to pay for (among other things) drug treatment. Never mind that this will seriously hurt the state's economy:

....The state may do this even though Oregon is the second largest microbrewery producer in the U.S. The beer industry and its 96 breweries contribute 5,000 jobs and $2.25 billion to state GDP. Kurt Widmer of Widmer Brewing Co. says the tax would "devastate our company and small breweries throughout the state." Adds Joe Henchman, director of state projects at the Tax Foundation, "This microbrewery industry has gravitated to Oregon in part due to low beer taxes."

For Oregon to enact punitive taxes on its homegrown beer industry makes as much sense as Idaho slapping an excise tax on potatoes or for New York to tax stock trading. Even without the tax increase, taxes are the single most expensive ingredient in a glass of beer, according to the Oregon Brewers Guild.

What few of these people stop to think about is how easy it is for people to brew their own beer tax-free.

posted by Eric on 04.15.09 at 02:08 PM










Comments

In Illinois the taxes on cigarettes are such that a pack of cigarettes costs (for the low priced brands) $5 a pack. And yes by raising the tax on cigarettes they also boost sales tax revenue. A tax on a tax.

At those prices a person with a pack a day habit could easily afford to substitute marijuana for cigarettes and at least break even or possibly come out ahead.

All for the children of course. Which makes sense. You will have to talk to your kids to find a connection.

M. Simon   ·  April 15, 2009 4:38 PM

My state is going for additional taxes on wine and liquor. We are so far in debt they didn't have the time to make up a "good" reason for it other than to say they need the revenue. We are only left to guess why beer has been excluded. Possibly a divide and conquer strategy, OR maybe pushing a bit of behavior modification, OR friends and contributors in the industry OR the governor is running for re-election and statistics say that the majority of our state's drinkers drink beer.

This would all be comical if it weren't so tragic. Who elected the clowns to lead? No matter the state, today we are ALL "under the big top", and this very-big-show has a price tag that says this circus is bound for an abrupt last performance.

Penny   ·  April 15, 2009 6:22 PM

I've been a homebrewer for 15 years or so. If you can boil water, you can make beer.

Captain Ned   ·  April 15, 2009 7:08 PM

Liberals have been saying for years that all men are potential rapists. So it makes perfect sense to them that all beer drinkers are potential child abusers.

nash   ·  April 15, 2009 8:18 PM

Here it comes. Everyone who stood aside or cheered while those who use tobacco were persecuted conceded the principle by which their own oxen would be gored.

Brett   ·  April 16, 2009 7:56 AM

Finland with about the highest beer prices in the world, due to tax, also has about the highest consumption rates in the world. This suggests that beer can be the cash cow.

Hugh   ·  April 16, 2009 8:40 AM

What few of these people stop to think about is how easy it is for people to brew their own beer tax-free.

Been doing it for 18 years and have a batch carbonating right now. Of course, I await our government's attempt to tax my hobby any day now.

physics geek   ·  April 16, 2009 9:08 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 03/12/2009 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

David M   ·  April 16, 2009 4:08 PM

The trend is to highly tax things poor people like -- cigarettes and beer.

Donna B.   ·  April 16, 2009 4:42 PM

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