The proposed bill increases Oregon’s Beer Tax 1,800 percent: from $2.60 per 31 gallon barrel of beer to $46.61 per 31 gallon barrel. That’s a hell of an increase.
While it’s true that Oregon has the fourth lowest Beer Tax in the Nation and that the tax rate hasn’t changed since the seventies, its possible that such a huge increase could be a major blow to the healthy brewing community in Oregon. Not to mention Oregon's many beer drinkers... Who, let's be honest, probably need their beer more now than ever.
As it stands, brewing is one of the few industries in Oregon that hasn’t taken a massive hit during this recession. I have to question the logic of possibly hobbling an industry that is currently pumping money into the local economy.
I’d also be a bit more willing to discuss the tax if the revenue it generated were going somewhere that made sense. Instead, the monies would be shunted into alcohol and drug prevention, and treatment programs.
Aren’t there other places that this money could be used?
The bill quotes several figures as justification for the tax
… less than 25 percent of Oregon adults and only two percent of Oregon youth who need substance abuse services receive the help they need
… Governor's Statewide Leadership Team for Alcohol-Free Kids and the Governor's Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs show that increasing alcohol taxes reduces access to and availability of alcohol to underage drinkers
… underage drinkers consumed an estimated 15.3 percent of all alcohol sold in Oregon in 2005, totaling an estimated $278 million in sales and estimated profits of $135 million to the alcohol industry
… alcohol use by Oregon's eighth graders is 76 percent higher than the national average
Those are indeed some impressive figures. But I somehow doubt that increasing the price of a six pack is going to keep kids from buying booze. I was a kid myself. I remember how motivated I could be when trying to score alcohol.
Rather than giving the money to brain-dead bureaucrats, who are going to create more useless PSA’s that kids are going to (rightly) mock, I have a feeling there is a better way to keep kids from drinking... Or at least ease the motivations they might have to do so... i.e. boredom.
How about putting some of that money into schools, so that teachers can engage kid’s minds? Or into after school sports, music, or arts programs to keep them engaged. Or putting it into services that help parents who are too stressed out to keep an eye on their children because they don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from? Or putting it into job creation so that more adults will be occupied with something other than drinking (possibly overpriced) beer?
I can tell you one thing. The world is going to look much more bleak if one of the few things that has been giving you pleasure in life—a cold beer with friends in the pub, or sipped quietly at home while watching the Simpson's—gets more expensive to enjoy.
Anyone else have any thoughts?