Greg Kesich, editorial page editor for the Portland Press Herald, makes the argument that the tax on alcohol should be raised (“To be credible, Maine’s war on drugs must also target alcohol,” March 19). Such an increase would have two effects: Reduce drinking, particularly by heavy drinkers, and increase money for various services (such as police) that are required because of such drinking.
The ultimate aim of such a tax increase would require those causing problems to pay for those problems, so that the rest of us can go about our business without being burdened. However, there is one central problem with Mr. Kesich’s suggestion, and a solution that can address it.
The problem involves letting our legislators decide what forms of behavior we should be able to freely engage in. Suppose that a majority decided we should not eat meat. By all means, increase the tax on meat. Or perhaps we should not sky dive. Increase its tax. The end result of such a process would likely be the imposition of standards of behavior on all facets of life, by means of the proliferation of numerous new taxes.
As an alternative, why not require that each person who causes problems pay for those specific problems? If the police are called, let the drunk who raised the ruckus be billed for the visit. If an inebriated person assaults another, let whoever caused the harm pay for righting that harm.
The benefit of this approach is that, while there is overlap between those who drink and those who cause harm, there are also those who drink and don’t cause harm, and those who don’t drink but do cause harm. Place the burden on those who cause harm, and leave the rest of us to our own devices.