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Maryland Politicians Turn Thuggish

An editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal says the panjandrums in Annapolis:

“are scratching their heads wondering what happened to all those chain smokers who were supposed to help balance Maryland's budget. Last year the legislature doubled the cigarette tax to $2 a pack to pay for expanded health-care coverage. Eight months later, cigarette sales have plunged 25% and the state is in fiscal distress again.”

The pols are worried that some of their smokers are shopping in Virginia where they can  save upwards of $15 a carton. As a result, the Journal notes the pols have:

“made it a crime for residents to carry two packs of cigarettes that weren't purchased in the state. In other words, the state says it's legal to smoke, so long as you use cigarettes that the government can tax and thus become a financial partner in your bad habit. But if you dare to buy smokes across state lines, you can be fined.”

Betsy, an Advanced Placement history and government teacher in North Carolina comments:

“I thought that one of the motivations for our federal Constitution was to prevent one state from taxing another state's imports into that state. Barring those purchases entirely is an astounding reach of state power.”

Carpe Diem provides this Econ 101 lesson:

If you tax something you get less of it, especially if perfect substitutes are available nearby (like cigarettes in Virginia). Q: Do politicians just not understand simple economics, or do they understand it, but ignore it for political purposes? 

HT Government Bytes and Club for Growth.


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