Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pouring it On

The NY Daily News reports this morning on another new Bloomberg tax initiative; and like so many others, this liquor levy involves an attempt to control how people behave: "Getting drunk in New York could get more expensive.The Health Department is mulling a new tax increase on alcohol - which supporters say would make New Yorkers drink less and get healthier."

Even before all of the party hats were put back on the shelf from the going away party we
held for the departure of former health commissioner, Mother Tom Frieden, we have a successor who wants to micromanage all of our personal behavior in order to, of course, save us from ourselves: "Frieden was replaced by Commissioner Thomas Farley, who wrote in 2005 that "the simplest and single most effective step we could take to cut drinking is to raise prices by taxing alcohol more." The city counted 1,700 alcohol-related deaths in 2008, and wants to reduce high school drinking by 16% and booze-fueled hospitalizations 19% by 2012."

And this is policy behavior that is encouraged by the mayor-whose philosophy is right out of the totalitarian playbook of Rousseau who once said famously that you need to, "force people to be free." As the Daily News tells us: "Mayor Bloomberg hasn't weighed in on the idea. But he is a big fan of raising taxes on cigarettes and sugary sodas to improve health - so higher booze taxes would fit right in. "The surest pathway to changing behavior is through the wallet," Bloomberg said last month."

Now, here is a mayor who is presiding over the worst recession that we've seen in a generation, and yet who remains obsessed with imposing an even greater tax burden on seriously overtaxed New Yorkers. What he fails to realize, as the advocates tell us that the higher tax will reduce consumption, is that his economic policies are literally driving people to drink. People who are unemployed or underemployed, are frightened; and alcohol is one of those traditional methods of self medicating.

What greatly disturbs us, is that this charlatan got re-elected because of an economic crisis that he bears some significant responsibility for-and his mindset makes him, in the words of the philosophers of hoops, "self-checked." His remedies for economic recovery fall far short; and in fact never really approach the core underlying reasons why the city is doing so poorly because they are inherently misdirected.

Yet he continues to enable the health fascists who themselves have little or no connection to the real world of work-and hurt-that most New Yorkers are immersed in. He does, however, have time to drag out the bully pulpit on one policy initiative-limiting executive pay: "New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the government should not get involved in how much Wall Street executives get paid and says it's a Soviet Union-style concept. The mayor was asked Wednesday about a report this week showing that Wall Street bonuses grew 17 percent in 2009 to $20.3 billion."

"Soviet Union-style concept!" What does he think he's doing, taking a page out of the National Socialist policy agenda? What hypocrisy and chutzpah! He understands the overbearing reach of government only when it is directed at his Wall Street cohort-and turns around unselfconsciously to employ the same heavy handed Big Brother methods when it comes to controlling what New Yorkers should or shouldn't consume.

Well, the one good piece of news in all of this is that the city can't proceed unilaterally: "Any city increase would need approval from state lawmakers in Albany." With the controversy over the soda tax already raging, the last thing that the state legislature needs is another sin tax to consider.