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    Blue Ink

    , ScanIAm wrote


    I point you to the drunk driving laws found throughout the world.  We quite often sanction people for their risky behavior.

    That's not even remotely the same thing: drunk driving is illegal, which means it's not just a risky behavior, it's a criminal one. It's not a matter of semantics: firstly, drunk drivers are not punished because they may hurt themselves, they are punished because they could end up killing someone else. Secondly, the law distinguishes between the bad behavior (DUI) and its ultimate consequences (manslaughter). Thirdly, the punishment is more socially fair (or should be, let's not get there just yet).

    Not that I would support a law that made smoking and eating greasy cheeseburgers a criminal offence, for an unrelated set of objections. But that's not what we were discussing.


    Anyone who knows my shtick knows that I'm about as big of a bleeding heart liberal as possible, but I'm never going to say "lets keep bad behaviours cheap so the poor can afford to do them".  Taxes are a tool, we should use them. 

    You are extrapolating it wrong. What I was saying before is that price is not a deterrent against bad behaviors (at least some of them). If you slap an excise tax, the poor will be worse off as they will keep buying - say - tobacco and alcohol, and end up with less money available for more healthy stuff.

    I agree that taxes are a tool, and a tremendous one, but I think they should always be used to level the playing field, which is why I oppose non progressive taxation.


    I'm confused.  Are you now saying that we _should_ tax bad behaviour?

    Again, no. I was saying that if you are dead set to eradicate bad behaviors, it would make more sense to tweak income taxes (which are progressive) and use them to fund initiatives that can reduce said behaviors without causing more harm. I don't know the numbers, so I won't speculate on the returns, but at the very least a part of those taxes should be offset by the benefits of a healthier and more educated community.