Sunday, January 13, 2008

Marin Institute's Solution for California's Debt

Our good friends at the Marin Institute have devised the perfect solution for decreasing our state's debt/deficit - tax alcohol! No, I suppose this isn't a shock for anyone who has heard of the "Alcohol Industry Watch Dog", but sometimes their stuff is just beyond ludicrous. This is from their release:
“A simple 25 cents per drink increase would generate almost $3 billion in revenue,” said Bruce Livingston, MPP, executive director of Marin Institute. “Raising the alcohol tax for the first time in 16 years is a common sense and fiscally responsible option to help close the budget gap.”
"Simple". Right. As if this weren't enough, they go on to really muddy the waters of this budget problem, showing their true intentions with this statement:
“Each year thousands of lives in California are cut short or forever damaged due to alcohol,” said Michele Simon, JD, MPH, Marin Institute’s research and policy director. “By not requiring industry to pay its fare share of the massive costs of its products, the state is actually subsidizing the alcohol industry. Now is the time for our elected leaders to find the political will to push through a long-overdue alcohol tax increase,” Simon added.
Without even getting to their claim and the assumptions it holds, did you notice how they shifted the issue from one of taxing to help the state's deficit to basically suggesting the industry owes the state for the damage they do? How did they make that leap, and in only two paragraphs?

I suggest you poke around their site from time to time, see what they're up to. Right now, they're pushing to abolish advertising of alcohol on buses as well as long story titled "Get What You Pay For" that discussing, none to favorably, California's alcohol lobbying body.

Marin Institute is a terribly misleading group, even if not quite reaching a main-stream audience, but if we completely ignore them and their agenda, allow them to say what they will about alcohol and its evils, we could see more and more people taking them seriously - which would be a very bad thing. Take, for instance, their list of what alcohol can be blamed for today:
Heavier consumption is associated with cancer, liver cirrhosis, stroke and birth defects. Drinking has also been linked to community blight as well as domestic violence, rape, assault, homicide, suicide, and lost productivity at work and school.
Also, their mission statement is pretty clear as well.
The Marin Institute fights to protect the public from the impact of the alcohol industry’s negative practices.
So, back to their tax proposal. Do you think they're as concerned with the balancing of our state's budget as they are with getting rid of alcohol? No, me neither.

Regarding taxes, the people of Beer Serves America list the California beer industry (not distillers or wineries) as paying the following in STATE Taxes alone:
State Business Taxes Paid Annually: $1,418,662,763
State & Local Exise & Sales Tax Paid Annually: $805,593,292
In addition, BSA lists California as having more than 6,500 jobs in the industry, paying out more than $530 Million and having a total economic contribution of $4,212,218,647! That's not a small number, by the way.