Raising tax on beer from 2 cents to 5 makes moral and fiscal sense

Jul 19, 2017 Ron Warpness, Riverton


In the poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, "Maud Miller" (1856), there is a line that goes, "For all the sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: 'It might have been.'"

After reading the July 2 article in the Ranger headlined "County not budging on much as FY17 budget takes effect," the range of county programs being cut due to lack of funding is tragic and draws this poetic line into sharp focus.

Programs like Fremont County Alliance Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, the Center for Hope alcohol rehabilitation facility and Injury Prevention Resources. These are all proven programs that have a significant and valuable positive impact on the lives of our most vulnerable citizens in our community.

Another commonality in these programs is their close relationship with the negative aspects of alcohol. Not too long ago "it might have been" possible to pass the tax on beer.

The several millions of dollars it would raise could have been spread across the state for programs such as these.

Now, however, the mantra we are singing is "no new taxes," in spite of the fact that this may be the only way we are going to be able to pay for programs such as these.

Thank God we had the wisdom to pass the 1 percent tax to fix our roads, otherwise our needs in that area would be getting cut as well, with the loss of jobs and the degradation of our roads.

None of us wants or enjoys taxes, but if we need programs of value someone has to pay for them. Our mineral tax base has taken a serious hit, and now we are feeling the result of our long dependence on them.

An increased tax on beer is the right thing to do morally. To continue to give the industry causing so much societal havoc a "free ride" is not only ethically wrong, it is an economic disaster for those in need.

It is a sick joke for the current $6 tax on one carton of cigarettes to be equal to the tax on 133 cases of beer or 3,192 bottles at 2 cents per gallon tax.

If there were a nickel tax on each beer sold, those 3,192 bottles would raise $159.60 in tax rather than the $6 they do currently.

Perhaps we will be a little wiser in the future.