How to Increase Teacher Pay – Raise Cigarette Taxes Of Course

May 13, 2008

North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley wants to raise the pay of teachers in North Carolina and improve government-provided mental health programs in the state. So who should pay for that? The general public who would theoretically benefit from the higher quality teachers that higher salaries would bring into the state and would also benefit from the greater spending on mental health care?

Not a chance. Easley doesn’t have the guts to do that. So he acts like a coward and decides that he will go after only a select few products and tax them. Is this in line with sound tax policy? No. Is it even consistent with a free society? No.

If the taxes on these products are too low based upon their external costs imposed on society, then that is a justification. But merely raising the taxes on hand-picked products to increase teacher pay with no concern for those external costs is pathetic.

And listen to this quote from one nanny who says the proposed increase isn’t enough:

Cigarette taxes have become a popular source of state revenue, according to research by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a Washington-based nonprofit. Since 2002, 43 states, the District of Columbia and several territories increased cigarette tax rates more than 75 times.

Public health organizations, such as the American Heart Association, says Easley’s proposal is not enough. Betsy Vetter, government relations director for the association’s North Carolina council, said the tax would have to be at least 75 cents per pack to cause a significant decrease in youth smoking.

“We’re always glad to see cigarette taxes go up,” she said. “We’d just like it to be more.”

Unbelievable. How about the ultimate tax — prohibition? That’s impossible. Why? Because while the nanny groups would love that, it would end the friendship between them and those who constantly want to raise taxes without “raising taxes” as no more money would be made for government from smoking.


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