Dollars and sense

Lately we have had some politicians push for making pot legal. It makes sense to them. As in dollars and cents. Because they want to tax it.

I predict we will eventually see pot legalized. And for the above reason. The politicians want to tax it. Their motto is “Let no sin go untaxed.”

A couple of states have already legalized pot and collect tax from it. In several states you can possess pot and barely get a slap on the fingers if you are caught. But the latest push is to make marijuana legal across the country. And, of course, to then tax it.

In the push we will hear lots of talk about regulating pot. If we regulate it we can ensure it is safer. Also, we can use the money to treat addicts. We can stop wasting police money chasing down potheads. Right.



You can file all those arguments under propaganda. The real reason for legalizing pot is to rake in more money for governments to spend.

You might have noticed we have created a pattern in this regard. Long ago, politicians learned to tax sin. “Long ago” really means that. The Great Wall of China was financed in part by money from lotteries. That was in 200 BC. Augustus Caesar ran a lottery. He raised money with it to repair Rome. We came, we saw, we gambled. My Latin is always wrong: Veni, vidi, Vegas.

Princeton, Columbia and University of Pennsylvania were begun on proceeds from lotteries. As was the first American army, during the American Revolution. The army and the lottery had the same slogan: You gotta be in to win.

As you know, we tax booze and smokes big time. We tax betting of all stripes. Horses, dogs, Jai-Alai, the slots, craps, numbers, roulette – we’ve got you covered. You bet your bunnies we have. We even tax tanning! A national 10 percent tax on tanning salons. We tax fat! That is, the sodas and sugars that make us fat. There are 33 states that lay a sin tax on Coke.

Pols tell us it is only fair that the obese, the smokers and boozers should pay such taxes. Because they eat up more tax dollars when they get sick. However, some researchers say this is bunk. Fat, smoking boozers die earlier than the rest of us. Millions never draw their Social Security. All the stuff about fairness is a PR smokescreen.

You may joke that politicians would tax sex. If they could get away with it. Well, no joke, they do. In some German cities the prostitutes pay hooker taxes. They slip their credit card into machines and get receipts. “Good for one session…” Hookers pay extra taxes in Holland. Well, you know who really pays that tax.

A little while ago some Nevada politicians suggested special taxes on prostitution in their state. Not enough that they collect sales and business taxes already from the brothels. Which are legal there.

Some say there is nothing new under the sun. That applies to sin, of course. However, if you ever do discover a new sin, don’t ever look back. There will be a tax man on your trail.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

Find Tom on Facebook. For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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