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Smirnoff Ice & Other Malt Drinks Targeted for Tax Hike in LA Times Alcohol Industry Biased Article

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Fun froo-froo drinks like Smirnoff Ice, Seagram's Coolers, Bacardi Silver and Mike's Hard Lemonade got a vote of approval in the form of a $3.10 per gallon tax (from 2-cents for a 12 oz. bottle to 31-cents), raising the price of six-pack malt liquors near $2.00. The proposed tax increase is due to reclassification of "alcopops" from beer to distilled spirits. The process for the increased tax could take a year to complete.

Interestingly enough, according to an article in the LA Times today, the "lobbyists" pushing for this change were teenagers: "'I was tired of seeing my peers drink these products,' said Jimmy Jordan, an 18-year-old from the Sacramento area who helped draft the petition. 'I was tired of seeing people drinking and doing dumb things.'

According to the ">petition (.pdf), the teenagers represent Friday Night Live, S.M.A.C.C. and the California Youth Council.

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Kudos to the group of teens for getting active and petitioning around the state for this tax hike (but who is funding you?). However, $2 ain't going to stop "dumb things" from happening ever.

Sorry, but this proposed tax seems to have good intentions with piss poor reasoning. That is, if you only read what the LA Times fed you.

What the Times only mentions as an after-effect of the tax, happens to be the main point of the petition's argument: a potential loss of $40 million in taxes due to the misclassification. Instead, the Times focuses on lame quotes that make the tax hike sound ridiculous:

"The ruling will send a signal to youth that these drinks are hard liquor because they have costs similar to hard liquor," said board [of Equalization] member Judy Chu of Monterey Park, one of the three Democrats to vote for the change.

"Send a signal to youth that these drinks are hard liquor because they have costs similar to hard liquor"? Really? Oh yeah, I forgot about my teenage boyhood of going to the grocery store and performing cross-comparison price analysis.

Let's get real folks.

Yes, there is the feel good sugar coating aspect in this proposal. Yes, maybe teens really had it in their hearts to use the tax for social change. But when it comes down to it, this is all about money. The tax hike would never pass solely on the reasoning teenagers don't have an extra couple bucks in their pockets or debit card accounts. Maybe taxing medical marijuana would reduce those recreational users from faking their way into a doctor's note. Yeah, no.

We doubt the Times is in bed with the alcohol lobby, but this article had a hint of bad breath after a night of heavy drinking.

To receive e-mail updates from the BOE about this specific issue, you can sign up on their website (now that is a measure if genius in constituent relations!).

Photo by ouverture via Flickr