Friday, May 21, 2010

Smokers; the real victims of punitive tax policy

According to Canadian Senator Hugh Segal, the growing market in contraband tobacco is the crime of the century.. “This may be the crime with the largest number of victims of any crime committed in this country." Uh-huh.

Crime? Victims?

I certainly hope he's not including me in his list of “victims.” When I can visit a first nations community and pick up a months supply of the demon weed for a third to a quarter of the cost demanded by the tax man, am I being victimized? Really?

When I make my monthly purchases, I may be engaging in criminal activity, but, I don't feel like a criminal. Instead, I feel a sense of empowerment. I'm striking a blow for liberty by refusing to pay the extortionist levels of taxation demanded by opportunistic and tyrannical politicians. And, I'll be damned if I'm going to feel guilty about it.

In another place and another time, I might have been tempted to seek out a boatload of the stuff just so I could toss it into Toronto harbour. And, as I watched the stuff sink slowly into the waters of Lake Ontario, I'd be screeching like a banshee: “No taxation without representation.” Or maybe something more appropriate, like: “Fuck you, Segal, and the horse you rode in on.”

OK, in all honesty, I most likely would not toss it all into the drink. I'd probably confiscate a portion for personal use. But I suspect most people will get my point.

Segal may be right in his claim that some criminal elements are profiting from the sale of contraband (read untaxed) tobacco. But the criminals did not create the problem. They were/are simply responding to an opportunity created by greedy governments who sought to impose a form of backdoor prohibition on tobacco use while filling government coffers with the money extorted from smokers.

The black market in tobacco exists because a demand exists. And, if the government refuses to allow legitimate business enterprise to supply that demand at a price the public is willing to pay, then the public will seek alternate sources of supply. And, they will feel perfectly justified in doing so. I know I do.

It's not rocket science. The fundamentals are taught to first year college students in Economics 101. And, when governments ignore rudimentary economic principles, they do so at their peril - although it's the taxpayer who usually gets screwed.

"If we do not act, we avert our eyes from an illegal activity that harms young people, reduces tax revenues, hurts First Nations, hurts the credibility of the police, harms our health care system and population health, hurts small business and hurts the very integrity of our borders." Segal's comments, made on the floor of the Canadian Senate, identifies those he considers “victims”.

Not a word about Canada's 5 million tobacco consumers who bear the financial burden of ill-conceived tax policy and who are never consulted when tobacco policy is discussed; the 5 million Canadians disenfranchised to placate the loud mouth bigots in the Holy Church of the Anti-Smoker.

But, if government is so concerned about the economic impact of the black market on tobacco retailers, convenience store owners, tobacco manufacturers, etc., then the Senate should have given some serious second thought to the implications of a tax policy designed to penalize 5 million of their constituents.

Were they so blinded by the bullshit and bafflegab of the anti-smoker crowd that they couldn't anticipate the adverse consequences? Don't they understand the basic laws of supply and demand? Didn't they realize that their actions would create a black market whose sole objective is profit? That this would compromise the best interests of our young people?

Says Segal: “If we permit all of this [to] happen, we are saying that the rule of law - fundamental to how a democracy balances freedom and order - is actually negotiable, or worse, a side-car afterthought." Political posturing.

For there's another rule, ignored by Segal and the majority of the politicians anxious to kiss the collective ass of the anti-smoker crowd. It's also fundamental to how a democracy balances freedom and order. It's the understanding that democracy is not simply bowing to the demands of the majority. A true democracy must also protect the rights and privileges of the minority, despite the protests of the "majority".

The tyranny of the majority is a very real concept. And, tyranny should be, must be, opposed whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head.

Screw'em. I'll use some of the 5 hundred dollars I save every month by buying contraband to pick up a bottle of Gordon Highlanders. I'll sip my whiskey and smoke my cigarettes and chuckle at the politicians who whine and cry over a situation for which they alone are responsible. And, I'll feel no guilt for my anti-social behaviour.

The senate, it is claimed, is the government chamber of sober second thought. There's nothing like a little comedic relief to brighten your day. Unless, of course, it's a glass of decent Scotch . . .

And a good smoke.


Kin_Free said...

Good article Rambo. This is an international problem that uses the same words and rhetoric.It produces an uncoordinated international response in line with your personal view.

An example of revenue 'success' claims, that are becoming more common in the UK - presumably to try to demoralise smokers (won't work!)

My view is encapsulated in a comment in the above story by 'Sir John Trenchard'.

The REAL criminals ARE governments - acting like legalised gangsters. While I have been a good law abiding citizen all my life, I too will do whatever is necessary to avoid paying extortionate taxation and be proud to have done so!

The more the bast**ds push - the more I will resist!

The Old Rambler said...

For some reason the link in the above comment was truncated. Try this link to the article on Salford Online referred to by Kin_Free.

And, you can check out his blog at:

You’ll have to copy and paste the links.

The witch from Essex said...

We have our 'resistance' movement here in the U.K.