A little more than 20 years ago, my husband and I had finally established sufficient credit to be able to finance a late-model used car, rather than having to pay cash for a junker that might or might not last another thousand miles. After we paid on that car for a couple years, my husband started mentioning things that included the phrase “after we pay off the car.” But I got to thinking on that, mainly that the car was now two years older than when we bought it, when it was already several years old, and after paying it off, it would be still older, and thus would be more and more prone to requiring expensive repairs. So I broached the idea that we really needed not to pay it off, but rather, in a couple years when it started needing this or that repair, to simply trade it in for another, slightly newer vehicle.
For anyone who’s ever had to live paycheck-to-paycheck, this logic is unassailable: if you’re paying X amount of dollars each month for a car, and then pay it off, you will find some other use for that X amount of dollars. Then when you truly require a newer vehicle… you won’t have any budget for that “new” car payment.
If you never pay off a vehicle, but simply trade it in when repairs on it become a regular feature, you never face that total lack of budget.
Your new vehicle will almost certainly cost more than the last, and because of that higher price and probable higher interest rates, your new car payment will be higher than the last, but for the most part, you already have a budget for a car payment, simply by virtue of already having a monthly car payment.
Though my husband and myself both have a little college education, neither of us has a college degree... yet we were able to figure out the elementary logic of maintaining a vehicle budget, in order to always have a vehicle we can depend on.
Which begs the question: with all the fancy college degrees represented by our lawmakers, how could they not see that putting a “sin tax” on cigarettes was a seriously bad idea?
The supposed reason for “sin taxes,” on any products, is to discourage the use of those products. But smoking may well be the most profound addiction ever known to man, so those who are addicted are going to always find the money to purchase cigarettes somewhere, somehow -- I many times bought cigarettes rather than food, if that was the only way I could afford to smoke; my husband rolled pennies on a regular basis, to get me one more pack on the day before payday -- I’ve even smoked butts from public ashtrays, when public ashtrays existed.
And for years, decades, greedy politicians could count on this sin tax cash cow. After all, financial experts told them that since smoking is an addictive habit, increasing the price of tobacco products would do little to curb the number of sales made -- smokers will do whatever they have to do, to keep smoking.
But what happens if people do start quitting smoking in hitherto-unprecedented numbers? You mean to tell me that NO ONE ever wondered that, or asked it out loud? Wasn’t the supposed PURPOSE of that sin tax to encourage people to quit smoking? Wasn’t that what Tobacco Control told you? No one thought it might be prudent to put some of that sin tax money, and MSA money, into a just-in-case trust? Just on the off-chance, you know, that people ever did start quitting smoking in droves… after you found a use for all that sin tax money... and now are addicted to it.
How is it possible that two working-class people without a college degree between them could figure out something this elementary, and our lawmakers could not? What’s that? You didn’t think smokers would ever really quit? But didn’t you say… it wasn’t really a tax, because smokers chose to smoke?
Now, more and more of us are choosing not to smoke -- which is what you said you wanted, when you passed all those sin taxes, year after year after year. And since we’re choosing to do that with something actually effective, rather than Big Pharma’s useless NRT, we’re opting out of the Murder Game as well.
Hoist by your own petard, are you?
Or maybe it’s Tobacco Control’s petard -- they keep SAYING they want people to quit smoking. Since they’re finally getting what they want, get Tobacco Free Kids, or the Robert W Johnson Foundation, or one of the other Big Pharma-funded Tobacco Control entities to bail out the various governments -- they’ve certainly got the money, and since people are quitting smoking without needing the busybody prodding of those foundations, they won’t need to spend so much money on PSAs… or bribing lawmakers to make war on smokers.
But they might tell you that their funding source -- Big Pharma -- is LOSING money, since people aren’t buying so much of that useless NRT. And that may be true, but still… a hundred billion here or there is a drop in the bucket to Big Pharma and Tobacco Control -- they could bail out every state government AND the federal government with many millions left over.
But they won’t do that. They’d rather spend those hundreds of billions to promote junk science and the charlatans who fabricate it, to convince the lawmakers that vaping is just as bad as smoking -- which it certainly is not.
The real issue isn’t really that people are quitting smoking, which is what they’ve said for over thirty years is their goal. Tobacco Control is largely funded by Big Pharma, so the fact that people are actually quitting smoking -- yet not using the worthless pharmaceutical NRT -- well, they just can’t be having THAT! Smokers are escaping their persecution, vilification, and demonization, which already annoys them -- AND those former smokers are doing it in a way that’s almost totally pain-free, which is even more annoying… and then they keep vaping, because they’re actually enjoying themselves -- HORRORS!
But the truly intolerable part, for Tobacco Control, is that all these quitters of smoking aren’t making them rich by using the utterly worthless pharmaceutical NRT. So the governments that have been Tobacco Control’s flunkies for thirty years won’t get any sympathy from Tobacco Control. I’m pretty sure that Tobacco Control will tell the governments to go whistle.
Maybe Big Pharma can create a “patch” for sin tax addiction -- but be sure to tell them that they should make this patch effective.