When I was inveighing against Oregon's smoking ban, I pointed out that "public health" is the new good-luck charm that neo-Puritans use to get otherwise progressive people on board with their efforts to legislate morality. Now they're at it again, with Oregon House Bill 2461: a proposal to increase the excise tax on beer by 2008%, to the highest in the nation.
Be very afraid of these people: they love the power of regulating individual behavior, and they love it when everyone lets them get away with claims that it's for our own good. They're comfortable with big lies, like the claim that "untreated substance abuse" costs Oregon $5 billion a year -- nicely refuted on Beervana. Or take this statement by one of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Ben Cannon of Portland -- "We know that this works, and it pays for itself many times over in reduced incarceration, reduced crime." -- at about 1:32 in this KGW video. Liar, liar, pants on fire! (Thanks, Steve Novick.) You do not know that a punitive tax on beer production results in reduced crime. Be a man, and admit that you want to tax activities that seem sinful, because you are afraid to increase state revenues with taxes that make more sense.
It may be possible to excuse Cannon for sponsoring this sin tax -- his Portland district seems to have been gerrymandered to exclude any of our city's fine breweries -- but my own State Senator Diane Rosenbaum is also listed as a sponsor of this bill. Her district includes six small, locally-owned breweries that would be severely impacted by this bill:
- Hair of the Dog
- Lucky Labrador
- Clinton Street
- Drop what you're doing right now, and write your state legislators.
- As usual, Jeff Alworth has a very level-headed analysis (even though he fell for the smoking ban).
- This comes up every two years. Let's go nuclear. The Oregon Brewers Guild should write an initiative that amends the Oregon Constitution to require a unanimous vote of the legislature to raise beer taxes.
- "Defeat Extra Beer Taxes" can be typed just with the left hand on a QWERTY keyboard.