Desperate Times Call for Desperate Taxes

With all the economic destruction politicians have wreaked, they created a desperate revenue situation that will lead to new taxes.

December 14, 2020

By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP

taxes revenue A few bills are hitting the news, and I have a cynical hunch as to why.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act or “MORE Act” (HR3884). The legalization of weed bill passed the house almost entirely along party lines, with maybe a handful of Republicans voting for it as well. There was no correct vote here, and I’m vehemently against the war on drugs.

I’m sure there are the self-righteous Republicans who still think weed is the devil’s lettuce. But there is also a contingent of libertarian leaning Republicans too, who have at one time or another called for legalization, but did not vote for this bill.

It should’ve been a clear shot. Multiple states already have some measure of weed legalization. The feds getting off the drug war train should’ve been a one-page no-brainer.

But they chose now to push this benevolent bill? Decades of people being locked up senselessly, mountains of funding behind drug task forces, and growing calls for legalization all gone ignored until the winter of 2020?

There’s a change in presidential administrations. This might mean something if the two in-coming politicians didn’t build their careers keeping the drug war in place. Of course, they didn’t support the drug war on principle as much as they did support it as a means of getting ahead in their careers, so they could very well sign something like this into law down the line.

The other big deal event happening is of course the pandemic. So, of ALL the possible laws that could’ve been debated and voted upon in the House, they push the MORE Act. Not a new stimulus package, which Democrats excoriated Trump for not passing. Not some sort of “ReOpen USA” bill. A bill to legalize weed.

You have people on the brink of being evicted, out of work for months with no means of making a living, and they push a weed legalization bill?

That doesn’t smell just a little funkier than some Arizona shwag to you?

I wouldn’t drink it if it was milk, let’s put it that way.

I want all the substances to be decriminalized. 100%. No strings. Something like that appeared to pass in Oregon. Something like that has been in effect for years in Portugal now.

But then I see how some states rolled out “legalization” and it has my cynical spidey senses tingling…

All these lock downs, shutdowns, and drastic limitations on foot traffic in businesses has led to economic devastation. That devastation means a severe drop in tax revenue. You can’t tax something that has no potential of generating revenue. Taxing the unemployed isn’t going to get them anywhere. And with all the regulations still pending going into 2021, legalizing and taxing weed is easy enough.

You saw the proposal for a “privilege tax” on those who can work from home. Along those same lines, New York city is proposing a bill to add a $3 surcharge to all non-grocery and non-medication deliveries.

It’s supposed to somehow help maintain public transportation by coming after large e-retailers like Amazon. But Amazon isn’t the one hurt by this. Consumers are.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez half-way understood it when she said that imposing a tax on the consumer doesn’t affect Amazon, but it does affect the disabled and elderly who also use e-commerce as a way to get their necessities. She turned around and suggested they tax Amazon instead.

So close… yet so far away. Of course, that also doesn’t affect Amazon as they just bake it into the cost of doing business to… you got it… the consumer.

The MORE Act passes the House. No question about it, taxes are tied to it. And folks like Justin Amash are willing to swallow that jagged pill for the larger cause of legalization. Others, like Thomas Massie, not so much.

You vote for this bill, you legalize weed. You also usher in a whole new bureaucracy with a whole new set of untold powers, as well as a tax that will no doubt start low. And that’s how you restore revenues in a down market. Release something that you had in the basement for a rainy day.

They call it “decriminalization”, but if you have bureaucrats and taxes decorating the legislation, then it’s legalization. This is why there is no “correct” vote on this bill. The people lose either way. Having your freedoms sold back to you is not freedom.

It generates more revenue than prohibition, so it passes. That’s one of the reasons why I take the “privilege tax” so seriously. It’s a revenue generator. And this is how weed gets legalized: as a desperate attempt to capture revenue in a down market politicians created.

I get Amash’s position. But I really resent the idea of having entire rights taken away and rationed back on a pay to play basis. I hate even more the pacifying phrases that inevitably come with that:

It’s a step in the right direction. As if this was a journey and not a destination unto itself. As if the progression wasn’t going to be seen in taxes rather than liberties.

It’s better than nothing. Is it, though? 244 years of soothing ourselves through bill after bill and we have a surveillance state, welfare state, warfare state, and over $27.4 trillion in debt to show for it?

I don’t know if the MORE Act will get past the Senate. Nor do I know if residents of NYC will be paying $3 for online delivery or if people who happen to work from home will be taxed for that. I do know that government at every level is getting desperate. I also know that a President Biden will have no qualms pushing through higher taxes federally, which means whatever tax benefits you saw under Trump are likely going with him.

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