The Republican delegate to the New Hampshire House of Delegates got me thinking: When questioned about his plan to try to adjust the cigarette tax to maximize tax profits from the sales of cigarettes, he said, well, they are legal. If you don't like the idea, then you have to, logically, make cigarettes illegal.
He had been talking about was how could we make cigaretes more attractive, so our neighbors would buy more cigarettes, or actually would spend more money on cigarettes--he was indifferent to how much they smoked, as long as they delivered more money to New Hampshire. If he could make more money selling fewer cigarettes, he was happy; if he made more money by increasing smoking and selling more cigarettes, that was okay, too.
As far as he was concerned, it's all about the money.
But he was speaking as a public servant, a representative of the people of Hampton, New Hampshire. And he was saying, we don't care whether or not we are encouraging the people of Massachusetts and New Hampshire to smoke more, all we care about is balancing the state budget.
He struck an especially reasonable tone when he said, "Look, we get them to come here to buy the cigarettes and they buy liquor and food and they spend all sorts of things."
Reasonable, right? He doesn't care what we are drawing them in with, as long as we draw them in.
I didn't ask him about maybe opening some brothels--that ought to really attract the big spenders.
I suppose these arguments swril around the opening of casinos. (But at least gambling is thought to be a harmless addiction for most people.)
On the other hand, once upon a time, the government was supposed to be concerned about the health and welfare of the citizens.
So when did our government stop caring about things like health, and only care about not having to raise taxes?
I think the answer is: When we put Republicans in charge of our government.