Using Taxation as a Weapon

Import duties have always been used as a weapon. Around the time of James 1st, citizens of England were not permitted to grow tobacco plants in order to protect the colonies in America from competition. Not long after that, when the American colonies rebelled, the King slapped a duty on tobacco from America to hurt the colonists. But note that he did not ban the import altogether. I suppose that the political situation was much the same as it is today. It was the powerless poorer sort who bore the brunt of the duties and not the better sort.

I believe that alcohol duties started with a duty on port from Portugal when England was in dispute with Portugal. Again, the idea was not to ban imports but to damage Portugal. Again, the better sort could afford the taxes but the poorer people struggled.

Not a lot has changed, has it?

Except that the duties are not aimed at hurting a foreign power or rebellious colonists. They are aimed fair and square at autonomous, adult citizens who just happen to enjoy tobacco and alcohol. Indeed, the Zealots of minimum pricing actually BRAG that the increase in prices will hurt the poorest most. The ‘alcohol epidemic’ is most ‘problematical’ amongst the poorest, so hit them hard.

We all know (or should do) what statistical sleight of hand is involved in ‘creating’ an alcohol epidemic amongst the poorest people. It is easy. If a person is in receipt of £200 per week and spends £50 on cigs and booze, he is spending 25% of his income on fripperies. His wife and children starve. If another person is in receipt of £1000 per week, and spends £50 per week on cigs and booze, he is spending 5% of his income on fripperies. That is OK. That is not ‘an epidemic’. Both are smoking and drinking as much as each other, but one is a deplorable addict, whereas the other is well-balanced.

You might say that hitting America and Portugal, in the circumstances, was justifiable, even though the wealthy people hardly felt the cost, but does that apply to self-inflicted wounds? I am talking about the wounds inflicted upon the poorer sort by the wealthier, better sort – like MPs. Or EU Aristocrats, or UN Dictators.

You might reasonably ask why the EU has turned into a monster. The short answer is that there has never been any reason that it should not. It was not built with an ethical sense. It is a machine. That was fine when it existed to stop European wars by spreading resources around equitably via ‘free’ trade amongst member states. Germany was industrial and France was agricultural. In effect, they could ‘barter’ goods very efficiently. Remember that ‘added value’ occurs at the the margins. More farm produce from France at the same price and more machinery from Germany at the same price. That is ‘added value’.

I do not know when duties were internalised. I do not know, for example, why there is duty on petrol, apart from the fact that the oil to make petrol is imported. Perhaps the duty on petrol is actually a duty on imported oil. Perhaps it exists benefit the UK Gov at the expense of the Oil Sheiks. Well, not actually at their expense, but taking advantage of the cheapness of the raw material.

We see all the time politicians taking advantage of the powerlessness of ordinary people. And that is how ‘duty’ has morphed into a weapon against THE PEOPLE. We cannot fight against it since almost all politicians do not understand. They do not understand, and perhaps, do not want to understand. They prefer to defer to ‘experts’.

There is a ‘new-think’ which is arising. It is that ‘advisers’ have their own biases. They are human beings, and thus are subject to their own interests. No matter how objective they might think themselves to be, the fact is that they cannot avoid personal bias.

How does this show itself? I suppose that you could take Hilary Clinton’s view of people who voted for Trump as ‘deplorables’ as evidence. It never occurred to her that it might be she who was ‘deplorable’.

I am wondering when politicians will realise that using taxation as a weapon is, quite simply, UNETHICAL as regards the adult population. The amusing thing is that such unethical taxation hardly affects ‘children’ at all. They have no money. So what did New York do? It invented the ‘child’ who was 20 years old. Such ‘children’ could not buy alcohol or cigs. They were too young. At a stroke, NY ‘corrected’ the ethics. NY could do whatever it liked with ‘the children’, because they were ‘children’, even if they were 20 years old. Parents were excluded, or, even worse, made responsible for treating their children as ‘children’ as newly defined.

Trump might be very imperfect both as a human being and as a President. Was Obama perfect? Was Bill Clinton? What human being, including the Pope, is perfect?

What is important in human relations with each other is that we get along. I know that is simplistic, but it is absolutely true. It was Hayek who pointed out that individuals interact in millions of ways every day. There is no way that The State cannot control those millions of interactions. Every attempt to do so has resulted in failure.

The disfiguration of tobacco packets with pictures of unproven smoking harms is especially unethical. And that is what surprises me about Tobcoms’ response. They went to court in Oz on the grounds of intellectual property rather than accuracy of the evidence that the pics were true. Does smoking really cause teeth to rot?

There is no excuse for using taxation as a weapon. There never has been, and it must stop. It is cruel and vindictive and selective. What we have been seeing in recent years is indirect persecution. Publicans should have been given the option of being smoking or non-smoking. Staff need not all to have been non-smokers. The minute effect of SHS over a lifetime should have been recognised and highlighted so as to assuage the worries of the ‘I don’t feel so well’ hypochondriacs.

There is no excuse. The only way back for the Zealots is to repent their sins. Arnott will  be persona non grata until she repents. No person will associate with a anyone who was involved in any way with Tobacco Control, not even ‘innocent’ staff members of ‘smoking cessation’ shops, selling Big Pharma patches etc.

I think that we should equate TC with shit. It is comparable with sewage. For several decades, TC has not encouraged anything pleasurable at all. Not one slightest thing. It has always acted to describe smoking in terms of shitting – disgusting, stinking, filthy shit.

We smokers are a 20% minority and therefore open to persecution. But we can defy. The easiest way is not to buy stuff in this country. Damn it! I drove to Hull and boarded a ship crossing the North Sea. It cost me only £50 for the crossing. I dined in the snack bar very cheap. In Bruge, I enjoyed a nice day seeing the sights and reminiscing about the last time I went there around 1957. I also bought 20 sleeves around half price.

It is even easier to fly to, say, Prague and get stuff even cheaper. You need only go for a weekend, very cheap off season.

But that is only avoiding the real problem which is persecution.

Perhaps the persecution of academics will come about some day.

4 Responses to “Using Taxation as a Weapon”

  1. Timothy Goodacre Says:

    Hi Junican ! If i could go across the Channel like you and buy my beloved George Karelias i would. Unfortunately outside Greece i can’t find anywhere to buy them.

    • nisakiman Says:

      Dunno how flexible you are, Timothy, but you can pick up some dirt cheap Easyjet deals to Athens. Long weekend in a great city, suitcase full of Karelias on the way home – job done!

      • Timothy Goodacre Says:

        Thanks very much for your advice Nisakiman, i’ll seriously consider it bcos Karelias have vanished in the UK apart from the girly slims !

      • junican Says:

        It is some years since I went to Kos for a holiday with daughters and others. Karelia was the cig of choice, and very nice it was. On a cruise, we arrived at a Greek port which had a duty free shop. Karelia was the predominant cig on display and they were very, very cheap.
        I have said again and again that it is worth borrowing the cost of a trip to, say, Prague off-season. But, of course, you must be very disciplined in repaying the loan. The saving in cost of tobacco vastly exceeds the cost of loan interest.

        I am about to book a trip to Magalluf, Majorca, for a break from my ‘duties’ for a week. I could easily take a three day trip and loads of youths do. Cigs are about half UK prices. Roughly, cost of trip £300; cost of, say, 30 x 200 cigs = £1100. Cost at home about £2000. What is there not to like?
        I have never been stopped by Customs yet – 15 years or more. If I was, I could easily prove that I could afford the cost. But even the ability to get a loan ‘proves’ ability to afford.

        I was able to order Pueblo rolling tobacco via my favourite shop. It would not surprise me if you could also order Karelia if you wished to.

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