Are high sumptuary and sin taxes liberal or conservative — or both?

Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, speaking of successful initiatives to legalize marijuana, says, “We found both a liberal approach, in Colorado, and a conservative approach, in Washington.  We found two paths that work.” http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/11/the-secret-ingredients-for-marijuana-legalization-moms-and-hispanics/265369/.

Colorado’s approach is less restrictive on driving and home growing than Washington’s, but Colorado’s tax burden is much lower.  https://newrevenue.org/2012/10/23/gangs-ganjapreneurs-or-government-marijuana-revenue-up-for-grabs/.  So is the high-tax approach conservative, and the low-tax approach liberal? 

Maybe that’s true for alcohol in the Bible Belt.  But some conservatives hate all taxes on the ground that they fund the evil state. In Oregon, speaking of taxing marijuana, “State Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point . . .said he’s reluctant to create a new state bureaucracy to keep track of the process.  He said he’s also concerned about creating another ‘sin tax,’ in addition to the dollars the state already collects through gambling, cigarettes and alcohol.”  http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120918/NEWS/209180306

Still, liberal and conservative may be more understandable than loose/tight, open/restrictive.

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Author: patoglesby

From 1982 to 1990, I worked in tax policy for Committees of the United States Congress. In recent years, I was Adjunct Lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill's Business School and then Adjunct Professor at its Law School.

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