New Mexico Proposes Video Game Tax to Punish Staying Indoors

February 1, 2008

Some people in New Mexico are skeptical of the Sierra Club’s proposal to tax people who make decisions with which they disagree:

Dave Gilligan remembers being pushed outside to play baseball and other sports, but feeling it just wasn’t for him.[…]

“If you take a kid that’s just playing his X-Box or whatever and you take him outside and you make him play baseball, he’s going to hate it,” said Gilligan, co-owner of Gamers Anonymous, an Albuquerque video game store. “There’s nothing wrong with sitting at home playing games. Everybody’s doing it now.”

But a coalition of groups, led by the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club, is sold on the idea that outdoor education programs can inspire children in a way that video games and television cannot.

The coalition wants state lawmakers to create a No Child Left Inside Fund with a 1 percent tax on TVs, video games and video game equipment. The fund would help pay for outdoor education throughout the state.

Supporters of the tax—which would be the first of its kind in the nation—say outdoor programs have been shown to improve students’ abilities in the classroom, boost their self-confidence and teach them stewardship and discipline.

The fundamental purpose of taxes is to raise revenue necessary for programs, not micromanage people’s decisions with subsidies and penalties. If a tax targeting video games is justified, it should be on the basis of actual negative externalities, not the whims of social engineers picking things they don’t like at random.

We discussed a similar video game tax proposed by a Wisconsin state senator:

Why not put taxes on certain types of music, clothes, or entertainment? Or why not go directly at the source and put a special tax within the income tax system on people who work at ages 16 or 17, or raise the drivers license fees on people those ages? This may sound stupid and discriminatory, but that’s exactly what this proposal is.


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