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Sin Tax

General discussions of the systemic, societal and civilisational effects of depletion.

Sin Tax

Unread postby EdwinSm » Tue 04 Jun 2019, 01:38:21

I may be behind the curve, but yesterday I saw, what was for me, a new addition to the list of "Sin Taxes" in a national news report.

After recent elections a coalition government is being formed and the programme proposal includes an increase in Sin Taxes, that is alcohol, tobacco products AND fuel for vehicles. [There has been a strong emphasis on ecological issues in the past election, with the Green Party the main gainer.]

Do you think that Vehicle taxes should be included in the list of "sin taxes"?
In light of the peak oil (dynamic) it might be a good move, and might help people accept it as an incentive to move away from fossil fuels.
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Tue 04 Jun 2019, 03:38:05

EdwinSm wrote:I may be behind the curve, but yesterday I saw, what was for me, a new addition to the list of "Sin Taxes" in a national news report.

After recent elections a coalition government is being formed and the programme proposal includes an increase in Sin Taxes, that is alcohol, tobacco products AND fuel for vehicles. [There has been a strong emphasis on ecological issues in the past election, with the Green Party the main gainer.]

Do you think that Vehicle taxes should be included in the list of "sin taxes"?
In light of the peak oil (dynamic) it might be a good move, and might help people accept it as an incentive to move away from fossil fuels.

1). As the world grows more secular, the whole "sin" moniker gets less sensible / relevant.

2). If they want to have a tax system based on punishing/discouraging what is "bad" for the planet or people in general instead of (some or all of the) progressive income taxes, that's a different thing. I think it could be a very good thing, but then they should be honest about it, and set that system up, and explain how the whole thing would work.

3). Until EV's are dominant everywhere, calling an ICE car "a sin", especially where the infrastructure doesn't provide good alternatives to get around (such as in remote / rural areas), lumping them with things like cigarette taxes seems just wrong to me. (Once they are everywhere and easy to charge, get fixed, etc., that changes, assuming 400+ mile ranges become commonly available in time).

I don't mind when politicians try to solve problems, including suggesting new methods. What I mind is the lying/misnaming/moralizing to try to sell their ideas under false pretenses. I think that today, to call ICE cars a "sin" is unreasonable. They're not even close to dominant in southern CA yet, for example.
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby Newfie » Tue 04 Jun 2019, 05:00:22

Do you think that Vehicle taxes should be included in the list of "sin taxes"?


“Win” or “virtue” is a subjective assignment. Do I think vehicles should be taxed? They already are with sales taxes, at least in most if not all USA states. There is no Federal tax.

I would support a “tax” to cover the eventual safe disposal/recycling of the vehicle and manufacturing plants.

“Sin” taxes are levied to discourage a particular practice or action. What are they trying to suppress? Fuel is generally heavily taxed, but that is suppressing vehicle “use”, not simple ownership.
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Tue 04 Jun 2019, 14:52:35

Newfie wrote:Fuel is generally heavily taxed, but that is suppressing vehicle “use”, not simple ownership.

In general, at least in the US, fuel taxes are theoretically used, largely, to maintain the road network drivers depend on. The theory makes sense to me, and IMO, the people who use the roads the most should pay the most tax to maintain them, and the fuel tax more or less works that way.

Of course, since people HATE paying fuel taxes, the US federal fuel tax is no longer enough to keep the roads in good repair, so there's that. If roads magically stayed fully repaired, built themselves at a verbal command, etc., then I'd see no need for fuel taxes. As it is, I don't see having users pay to maintain an expensive system they benefit from via taxes as "suppressing" vehicle usage so much as dealing with economic reality.

Oh, and BTW, EV's will tear up the roads, just like ICE's (or even more, if they're heavier). So, I think we should likely be converting the fuel tax to a mileage tax, or tax electricity used to charge EV's, especially as the proportion of EV's grows -- so all drivers are paying roughly their "fair" share. We certainly have the technology to do that; it just takes politicians having the will.
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby Newfie » Tue 04 Jun 2019, 17:18:17

Some good thoughts there.
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby asg70 » Wed 05 Jun 2019, 00:48:56

CARBON tax, not sin tax.

BOLD PREDICTIONS
-Billions are on the verge of starvation as the lockdown continues. (yoshua, 5/20/20)

HALL OF SHAME:
-Short welched on a bet and should be shunned.
-Frequent-flyers should not cry crocodile-tears over climate-change.
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby Fredrik » Wed 05 Jun 2019, 12:00:45

EdwinSm wrote:There has been a strong emphasis on ecological issues in the past election, with the Green Party the main gainer.


By the way, where do you live?
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby evilgenius » Wed 05 Jun 2019, 12:52:39

Road usage would be ok, if it could be done without tracking where everybody went. Too much information about what people do, or that can be inferred about that from where they go, is a bad thing in the hands of any government. Governments are the political embodiment of the people. Since when have other people kept embarrassing or destructive knowledge to themselves? The very danger of that would curtail not just overtly aberrant behaviors, like people traveling to cheat on their spouses. It could cause people to come together around centers of thought that judge others for behaviors that have always been seen as merely eccentric or which are simply not part of what normal people choose to do. Shame is a powerful weapon. The current president is guilty of throwing it around in order to get what he wants, stirring up his base and solidifying them around certain issues. The way he does it is a lot like the people doing it because he does it as a result of his knowledge of what their opinions are, so that he can appeal to them. Imagine what the people themselves would do, if they had a more direct connection to the use of shame empowered by too much knowledge about the behavior of those around them.

Usage could be tracked by tracking battery levels. If a car's batteries were used for a non-traveling purpose, like powering a camping site, trailer or house, some sort of switch could be used to classify that use differently. Different uses could be classified almost like how different sorts of diesel fuel are taxed, according to what category they are in. While diesel is taxed at the pump, electricity could be taxed by amount of it put toward whatever category of use. The categories would have to be broad enough or, again, the wily nature of the people might step in and ruin the whole thing for everybody.
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby EdwinSm » Thu 06 Jun 2019, 09:43:06

Fredrik: Åboland

Thanks for the thoughts. I am not sure that I want to add fuel tax to the "sin tax list".

I realise that prices have to rise to drive people to more energy efficient vehicles, and personally I would love to have an ev. However, my driving now is quite limited and I guess that the energy consumption used in making a new car will be nowhere near the savings in fuel over keeping my existing petrol (gas) one. So the ecologically responsible move would be to keep the existing car until it mechanically needs replacement.

In the elections it was noted that the Green Party is primarily targeted at the urban university educated elite. As a result, its policies are often at a variance with the needs of the rural population. Eg getting people to switch to public transport is a good idea, but in sparsely populated areas this could be an extremely expensive option if the buses are driving around almost empty. [And don't get me started on the invasive species such as cormorants :x ]
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby Subjectivist » Wed 08 Jul 2020, 12:11:35

Who gets to pick which sins get taxed? In the past Alcohol and Tobacco and Gambling and in selected jurisdiction Prostitution have been popular choices but I think you could make a lot of money as a government with say an internet porn tax. All those 18 year old guys who can't get a date looking at something their parents tell them they should avoid would by a big source of income for Uncle Sam and State Government.
II Chronicles 7:14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby EnergyUnlimited » Wed 08 Jul 2020, 14:00:49

Subjectivist wrote:Who gets to pick which sins get taxed? In the past Alcohol and Tobacco and Gambling and in selected jurisdiction Prostitution have been popular choices but I think you could make a lot of money as a government with say an internet porn tax. All those 18 year old guys who can't get a date looking at something their parents tell them they should avoid would by a big source of income for Uncle Sam and State Government.

Internet is vast, VPN-s and P2P systems quite efficient and enforcement feeble.
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Wed 08 Jul 2020, 14:15:06

Subjectivist wrote:Who gets to pick which sins get taxed? In the past Alcohol and Tobacco and Gambling and in selected jurisdiction Prostitution have been popular choices but I think you could make a lot of money as a government with say an internet porn tax. All those 18 year old guys who can't get a date looking at something their parents tell them they should avoid would by a big source of income for Uncle Sam and State Government.

Maybe the whole problem is semantics? As far as I'm concerned, we could ditch the whole "sin" tax name and use some kind of "bad for society" or "bad for the planet" or both tax, even to the point of replacing part or nearly all of the income taxes with them.

I would call things like smoking and alcohol "bad for society" tax due to the proven level of health impacts overall, especially with overuse with alcohol. Society pays to clean up the mess, including medical care for that, so let the users of such drugs pay for that, IMO.

For "bad for the planet" taxes, we could include virtually all consumable goods that have net pollution, energy, CO2, etc. impacts on society. Under that system, something like locally grown healthy produce might be taxes little or none. A fancy fuel guzzling private jet might be taxed a LOT.

It seems to me that some panel of subject matter experts could decide what gets taxed and how much, based on some kind of OBJECTIVE standards. And the facts / figures behind the decisions should be subject to some kind of challenge / review process, so politicians can't just make stuff up and take care of their pals, as per usual.

To me such a system seems mostly better and more reasonable than a progressive income tax. The poor could still be helped out with some kind of income credit or something.

And no, I'm not beginning to call this concept perfect, but I DO think it could well represent progress, if implemented well.
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby JuanP » Wed 08 Jul 2020, 19:19:08

Uruguay never had personal income taxes until a few years ago, less than a decade. We had Value Added Taxes (20%+) and Import Taxes on consumption instead, with everything getting taxed except basic needs like housing, medicine and medical services, education, and food. And some things, like cars, gasoline, and diesel have their own additional taxes, too, making them a lot more expensive than they are in the USA. I have always thought that a system that discourages consumption and encourages production by taxing purchases instead of income makes a lot of sense.
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby REAL Green » Wed 08 Jul 2020, 19:24:17

JuanP wrote:I have always thought that a system that discourages consumption and encourages production by taxing purchases instead of income makes a lot of sense.


JuanP, explain how taxing purchases encourages production again??
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby mousepad » Thu 09 Jul 2020, 07:31:53

JuanP wrote:I have always thought that a system that discourages consumption and encourages production by taxing purchases instead of income makes a lot of sense.


If you have production, you have CONSUMPTION. Otherwise, why would you produce?

Taxing one man to discourage his consumption will simply transfer the consumption to another man.
When a state taxes, it's not going to hoard the money. It's going to spend it all, consuming (instead of the man it taxed).
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby JuanP » Thu 09 Jul 2020, 11:16:09

mousepad wrote:
JuanP wrote:I have always thought that a system that discourages consumption and encourages production by taxing purchases instead of income makes a lot of sense.


If you have production, you have CONSUMPTION. Otherwise, why would you produce?

Taxing one man to discourage his consumption will simply transfer the consumption to another man.
When a state taxes, it's not going to hoard the money. It's going to spend it all, consuming (instead of the man it taxed).


The obvious answer is that the nation produces to consume as needed and EXPORT the surplus, which makes the nation wealthier. As an individual you produce more and consume less, increasing savings and reducing expenses and debt. I know this may sound counterintuitive to Americans, but it works.
Last edited by JuanP on Thu 09 Jul 2020, 11:44:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby REAL Green » Thu 09 Jul 2020, 11:26:23

JuanP wrote:The obvious answer is you produce to consume as needed and EXPORT the surplus, which makes the nation wealthier.


Getting back to the original failed economic logic you are trying to squirm out of:

JuanP wrote: I have always thought that a system that discourages consumption and encourages production by taxing purchases instead of income makes a lot of sense.


JuanP, explain how taxing purchases encourages production again??
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby mousepad » Thu 09 Jul 2020, 12:40:24

JuanP wrote:
mousepad wrote:
JuanP wrote:I have always thought that a system that discourages consumption and encourages production by taxing purchases instead of income makes a lot of sense.


If you have production, you have CONSUMPTION. Otherwise, why would you produce?

Taxing one man to discourage his consumption will simply transfer the consumption to another man.
When a state taxes, it's not going to hoard the money. It's going to spend it all, consuming (instead of the man it taxed).


The obvious answer is that the nation produces to consume as needed and EXPORT the surplus, which makes the nation wealthier.

No, you need balanced trade. Imbalance in trade will always lead to issues, no matter if you export or import too much.

As an individual you produce more and consume less, increasing savings and reducing expenses and debt. I know this may sound counterintuitive to Americans, but it works.


No it doesn't.
If something is produced, it is consumed. Even if it's going from the factory straight to the trash.

If you work and save, and you NEVER spend your saving, you essentially create deflation, making the money of other people more valuable, allowing them to consume more.

If you're taxed, consumption is moved to somebody else.

Export, import, reducing debt, slave labor, etc etc, doesn't reduce consumption. It only moves it from one man to the next.

The best way is to reduce production. An easy way would be 20h work week, but of course it comes with some reduction in standard of living, like return to 1950, or so? Apparently nobody want's that. They all want more travel, more gadgets, more car, bigger house, better AC, imported foods, etc.
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Thu 09 Jul 2020, 14:57:34

mousepad wrote:The best way is to reduce production. An easy way would be 20h work week, but of course it comes with some reduction in standard of living, like return to 1950, or so? Apparently nobody want's that. They all want more travel, more gadgets, more car, bigger house, better AC, imported foods, etc.

To be fair, you're talking about Americans. In places like Scandinavia, people overall are far more receptive to a better work-life balance, in exchange for earning less. Of course, they have a FAR bigger government safety net and far higher taxes and less income inequality -- so their economic reality is very different.

I agree completely that the best way to reduce production would be a smaller work week. If you could get people to universally use the time productively instead of getting bored and doing massively stupid things with the time, the result could be fantastic. Can that happen in the US? The jury is still out.
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: Sin Tax

Unread postby JuanP » Thu 09 Jul 2020, 15:51:22

Outcast_Searcher wrote:
mousepad wrote:The best way is to reduce production. An easy way would be 20h work week, but of course it comes with some reduction in standard of living, like return to 1950, or so? Apparently nobody want's that. They all want more travel, more gadgets, more car, bigger house, better AC, imported foods, etc.

To be fair, you're talking about Americans. In places like Scandinavia, people overall are far more receptive to a better work-life balance, in exchange for earning less. Of course, they have a FAR bigger government safety net and far higher taxes and less income inequality -- so their economic reality is very different.

I agree completely that the best way to reduce production would be a smaller work week. If you could get people to universally use the time productively instead of getting bored and doing massively stupid things with the time, the result could be fantastic. Can that happen in the US? The jury is still out.


That is also the case in Uruguay. Most Uruguayans take up to eight weeks of vacation time a year, plus national holidays, too. A full month at the beach in Summer, a week in Spring, a week in Fall, and two weeks in winter. And most Uruguayans own their homes, have no mortgages, and many have a beach house and/or a farm or countryside place, too. Also, most Uruguayans don't have any debt or very little. The average income per capita is 1/3 that of Americans, but there is a lot less inequality and the quality of life is better in many ways with free universal health care and free universal education all the way through post graduate degrees, too. How much money do you need to live well if you have no mortgage, no rent, no credit payments, free education, and free healthcare and medications? Nobody in Uruguay's history ever had to file for bankruptcy because of medical expenses; that idea sounds completely absurd to Uruguayans.
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