Wednesday, May 5, 2010

ZenTiger Smoking!

At least two robberies reported of cigarettes since the tobacco tax rise a few days ago. It's dangerous to work a convenience store. It might explain why John Key prefers a visit to Afghanistan than a walk down to the shop for a loaf of bread and a mugging.

I imagine banks are weighing up the advantages of offering their secure facilities to become vendors of cigarettes. Could be a good sideline.

Perhaps we could use cigarettes as a new currency? If it's good enough during a world war, it's good enough during an urban war. Might reduce smoking too, especially when the rates bill is due.

So the tax component is now around 75% of the smokes (I think). With a GST increase looming and two further tax increases scheduled, adding 30% more taxes to the present high taxes, it will soon be 80%+ of the cost.

That would mean a pack of 25's would be around $17, and tax at least $14.00. A $3 product incurs tax of 5 times it's cost. The Dick Turpin Tax.

I guess that is a great incentive for giving it up, but is that the way governments should behave? It's a preemptive fine for catching some-one doing something legal. What would the prices be like if all fines were around 5 times the cost of the product?

The Greens want to tax soft drinks. A bottle of Coke would be $10. Alcohol? A nip of spirits $30. Bourbon and coke, $40 and up. Driving 5km over the limit? Increase the fine from what, $80 to $400?

At least speeding is illegal, here we are talking about discouraging legal use by making something punitively expensive, rather than the government having the balls to simply make it illegal. What if you instead licensed smokers, so they picked up their cigarettes by prescription. Then what you could do is put aside half the tax, and pay it back to them as a bonus when they have been certified as "quit"?). Now there's an incentive to quit - get half your tax money back.

But hey, we only kick addicts where it hurts in this day and age. Other products will have to wait a few years, as we condition people to despise the obese for their nutrition choices, the young for their dangerous sporting activities, and the stupid for their lack of education.

What a great idea though - fine people for failing exams so that they are encouraged to become productive members of society. Fine them for being unemployed. Fine them for being poor. It makes perfect sense, if government intervention by taxation is the solution to every human failing, vice, hobby or method of relaxing.

But if rich people can afford the luxury, perhaps punitive pricing is not enough to discourage smoking, which is only done for their own benefit. So let's bring back public lashings. Surely, a good flogging would also encourage more people to give up this unhealthy habit? Maybe they could chose at time of purchase - "look mate, I'm $10 short on the tax, can you just beat me around the head a little?" "Geez, I gotta give this up."

Over 1 billion dollars a year raised in tobacco tax and apparently $50 million spent on prevention and support. I think I saw a figure of $250 million to cover medical costs, so even with other costs, it's still a tidy profit.

GST of 15% is thinking small. GST of 50% on the "bad things" would soon sort out the population and make us a model society. In return, a decent breakfast cereal and NZ grown apples will be tax free. Washing the bowl in fresh water afterwards would only be $3 in water fees. Either eat from the packet, or rinse in re-cycled rainwater you ecological terrorist.

Which reminds me of the concept of a carbon tax. Make luxuries like driving a car prohibitively expensive. Then wait for the market to save us from ourselves. Will it drive innovation? Will it drive people to walk? Will it drive us broke?

First, they crushed the cars; then they regulated the guns; a light smack was made illegal, then they taxed the weather, and then they came for the smokers.

It wont ever get any worse than this. Repeat that often.

In fact, I dare say people are arguing it's getting better all the time.

(Warning: some ideas above were only suggested in the spirit of sarcasm.)
It's getting better all the time

4 comment(s):

MK said...

Our own gasbag of a PM also trotted out a tax on fags the other day. It's all to be expected though, people want government intervention and meddling. We won't pay for our own healthcare and someone has to. This means the government has to get the money from somewhere and taxing the unpopular is the easiest method.

The only way out of this is limited government, when it's not their responsibility, they can't do anything and stuff it up in the process.

KG said...

Please don't give the statist b***ards ideas Zen!

Psycho Milt said...

Unusually, I agree with KG - when it comes to recreational drug use, there's nothing you could offer up as obvious satire that the govt won't file away as a useful suggestion.

In the particular instance under discussion, smokers are already taxed more than sufficient to cover the health costs of their addiction, so additional taxes such as the one just implemented basically amount to leveraging the user's addiction in order to milk him for cash. If that's good governance, we must be taking The Sopranos as a model.

KG said...

"If that's good governance, we must be taking The Sopranos as a model."
Indeed. Although at least Big Tony was honest enough not to become a politician...

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