I am expanding my effort to make beverage alcohol pay its way with a National petition campaign. I contend that America must End Subsidized Intoxication to End Gun Violence. I hope you will both sign on to this petition and also pass it along through your network. Only signatures count, so I need you to sign on to make this happen. My expanded rationale is given below the * * * while the direct link to sign onto this petition at MoveOn.org is right here http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/end-subsidized-intoxication.
3 August 2016
Distributed Beverage Alcohol is simply not paying the social cost incurred by its distribution. This is a key social-environmental issue; the result is a major leak in the US fiscal bucket. There will be plenty of money to fund universal health care, public schools, judicial matters, police, parks, and infrastructure maintenance if the USA makes beverage alcohol pay its way in real dollars. This is no more to ask of drinkers and of the beverage alcohol industry than what voters have insisted smokers and tobacco companies pay for the damage caused by distributed tobacco products. The Center for Disease Control estimates the real cost of drinking beverage alcohol to be $2.05 per serving. [see http://www.cdc.gov/features/costsofdrinking/ ] . To know this cost of use exists and yet to not tax it commensurately constitutes a de facto subsidy for public intoxication. This cruel absurdity is fostering violence in America, including gun violence. The States and the Federal Government share equally in this blind duplicity.
The phrase "Distributed Beverage Alcohol" includes all beer, wine and spirits sold in stores and all alcohol sold in bars and restaurants. "Distributed Beverage Alcohol" is used to distinguish home-brewed beverage alcohol made for ones own consumption which is NEVER for sale as inherently different from "distributed beverage alcohol" which is manufactured for public distribution and subsequent resale by stores, bars and restaurants. A "serving of alcohol" is defined by the California Vehicle Code as 12 ounces of 5% beer, 5 ounces of 12% wine; 1½ ounces of 80 proof spirits like vodka, gin or whiskey. This is a crucial understanding because these DMV rules are the only metric offered to assess sobriety and the ability to act responsibly. Distribution itself plays a key role as detailed by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation http://www.pire.org and their report available online at http://resources.prev.org/documents/AlcoholViolenceGruenewald.pdf.
A majority of violence in America, including domestic violence and gun violence, is caused by alcohol intoxication. One need only watch The History Channel series entitled Gangland for the concentricity of drunkeness and random gun violence to come together. Consequently, making Distributed Beverage Alcohol pay its way is only fair. This petition calls for the Federal Government to institute a $2 per serving excise tax on distributed beverage alcohol with the resultant revenues to be shared equally by the States and the Federal Government; the legislation would include an important gun-control caveat: If convicted of Driving Under the Influence, one loses their right to keep guns in their possession during that correctional period. Clearly, if you cannot be trusted to drive a car, you cannot be trusted with an arsenal.
Nor are the costs identified by the CDC the only downside of beverage alcohol consumption. Sex & alcohol are likewise a recipe for tragedy because intoxicated sex produces unintended pregnancies which lead to abortion. This sad consequence must be considered equally by both Pro Life advocates and those who support A Woman's Right To Choose.
Any government concerned with public wellbeing and with sustainability is obligated to hold in check options known to have a negative impact. Clearly, Americans have the right to drink alcohol and the right to use tobacco just as they have a Constitutional right to own guns. Regulation is allowed while the governments are neither obligated to subsidize these activities nor obligated to subsidize the business entities which sell these products. The government, however, does have an obligation to provide universal health care because this is the only way to assure first class care for veterans and their families who are spread thinly all over America. Over time these options and obligations can co-exist if and only if each activity pays its own way.
Americans do believe that getting more for less is an American birthright. And they are exceedingly precious about their preferred guzzle. A common reaction to this pay-your-way proposal is "Why should I pay more because someone else is misbehaving?" Wait a minute! The linkage between drinking alcohol and social violence is well established. Even the National Rifle Association has become vocal about not allowing guns and alcohol to mix in open-carry states. The facts of this matter are at hand for anyone with open eyes. Even so Americans will be hard pressed to ask of themselves "Why is what I want causing so much trouble?" Not that this insight is beyond the American spirit. One need only to look back to 1961 when JFK evoked "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." It is time to make beverage alcohol pay its way. Let's make this happen next!
As I posited previously this campaign is about fair play in budgetary matters. The USA is a liberty based society wherein individual choices are allowed so long as each option pays its own way. With discretionary consumption especially, sustainability requires that we Pay as We Burn. Only this balance is sustainable. The consensus of Police Chiefs in California holds that a majority of crimes which require criminal investigation, prosecution and incarceration are facilitated by if not CAUSED by alcohol consumption, so beverage alcohol should pay for the consequences of beverage alcohol consumption. These felonies run the gamut and the pattern holds nationwide. Nor would a full reimbursement of costs through excise taxation be regressive: From my perspective as an inner city resident, the poor in our society already pay the highest price for subsidized drinking because they pay in domestic abuse, neighborhood violence, lost employment, and prison time.
You must keep in mind that asking distributed beverage alcohol to pay its way does not constitute a regressive tax any more than does asking smokers to pay pack by pack for the cost of using tobacco. These activities are discretionary. Other considerations are not optional if we are to have a better future. The need to quell violence in America and the need for effective universal health care are examples. The simple fact is that we must make everyone in the USA feel a respected part of the whole in order to calm the tide of unrest. A few dollars more for the alcohol you want for yourself is a small price to pay for safer streets. Indeed, its a bargain. Besides, a distributed beverage alcohol excise tax would be a tax no one has to pay because you have the right to make your own beverage alcohol or the right to simply abstain.