By Christopher McCollum
A new statute is being proposed in Californians called the Alcohol-Related Harm and Damage Services Act of 2010. This proposal, which seeks to increase the state alcohol tax by astronomical proportions, was brought forth by Josephine and Kent M. Whitney, of San Diego, California.
Last year, I wrote an article about Russia raising its alcohol tax by sky-high margins, but if this Act in California goes through (it is going to require around 430,000 signatures on a petition just to go to a vote), President Medvedev will have to bow his head in submission, as his 300% tax hike will look like pocket change compared to the proposed 5,500% to 12,675% tax increase that the Whitney’s have authored.
In reading the details of the proposal, we see a helpful summary that California’s Attorney General wrote, which details what exactly will be taxed, and how much the tax will be; Beer’s six-pack tax will rise from 11 cents to $6.08 USD, a 5,527% increase. With that in place, say hello to $12 six-packs of Yuengling, and a lovely $15 for a six-pack of a good micro-brew, or about the price that a case costs here in North Carolina. The steepest tax increase of almost 13,000% is on 750ml bottles of wine, which aims to raise the tax from 4 cents to $5.11 USD per bottle, which has many people fearing that this will cripple the wine industry. According to one grower with a winery in Soledad, California, the most in-demand product on the wine market are mid-range bottles of $7 to $8. He fears that raising the price on those hot ticket items by an additional $5.11 will reduce the overall demand and put a tremendous strain on local wineries, eventually leading to job losses.
The purpose for this tax-increase is to pay for programs that address alcohol-related concerns and problems, with the Whitney’s citing statistics of alcohol-related birth defects, sexual assault, underage drinking, and the overall estimated cost to California in order to pay for the billions of dollars in damages it incurs from its drinking population, including health care and costs of the justice system.
While it is a noble cause to try to funnel money into awareness programs that will educate today’s youth on the dangers associated with alcohol, as well as rehabilitate those with addictions, there must be a way to provide that money through other means than what will possibly turn out to be a form of taxation-induced prohibition that has the chance to ruin a sector of California’s already suffering economy.
The realistic chances of this law actually coming into fruition is slim to none, but it always pays to be aware of what the teetotalers are doing in order to punish good people for the sins of others. A proposed 5 cent increase in the alcohol tax was quashed just a month ago, as the sponsor, Rep. Jim Beall(D-San Jose) failed to find any support amongst his fellow representatives.
This failure bodes well for the people of California, as it shows precedent that their elected officials will not support an alcohol tax increase in this term.
The deadline for the final petition count is September 2nd of this year, and while it may not be a great surprise if they get the necessary 433,000 signatures in a state as heavily populated as California, we can remain confident that it will not pass a vote in the legislature.
I will be in California’s wine country this summer, as I act as the Best Man in the wedding of a dear friend of mine, so I will be making sure to see what, if any, headway is being made with the petition and also to see if I can collect some interviews with growers and petitioners alike to bring back to you, dear cultured readers.
Cheers, my friends!