Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“A people armed and free forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition and is a bulwark for the nation against foreign invasion and domestic oppression.”     James Madison

January 16, 2008

I Thought The Pole Tax Was Unconstitutional?

by Brad Warbiany

Or was that the poll tax?

Either way, I’m not a big fan of this new Texas law:

There is a new price to be paid for looking at naked women in Texas. On January 1st the state’s strip clubs began imposing a $5 surcharge for each visitor. The “pole tax,” as it is commonly called, is expected to bring the state an additional $40m in revenue each year.

Ahh, there’s no better way to increase taxes than to make people who can’t defend themselves pay for them! After all, most strip club patrons aren’t going to leave their wives and kids at home to go protest this sort of thing down at the state house. Just like most “dirty evil smokers” won’t get much sympathy for their pocketbooks when a city or state raises the tax by a buck a pack or so.

After all, the politicians know what they’re doing. In Texas, they raised this tax to pay for shelters for rape victims, despite the fact that there isn’t much of a link between strip clubs and rape, as far as anyone can tell. Just like the smoker taxes are to pay for health care, despite the fact that some studies have shown that smokers die sooner and actually take less from the public trough than non-smokers.

But it’s always a winning tactic. Politicians create a scapegoat that the general public doesn’t like, and they can downright lynch them if they’d like. All you need to do is complain about how the strip clubs are ruining the fabric of society, or about how smokers are destroying their health and killing us with their second-hand smoke. Once you make the public think they’re bad people for their actions, the public agrees that they must be punished.

And it’s not a new phenomenon:

Such targeted taxes seem to be in vogue at the moment. Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, recently proposed that retailers pay a fee for selling sugar-laden fizzy drinks. The revenue would fund a city initiative to encourage healthy eating and exercise. Last year’s proposed expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Programme would have been funded by increased tobacco taxes (though the connection here also seems rather a stretch, since not that many children smoke; George Bush vetoed it anyway). In Wisconsin, a state legislator wants to raise more money for the juvenile criminal justice system via a tax on video games.

When our politicians need to push for increasingly dastardly methods for pulling in their tax revenues, one must ask whether we should really let them have the money.

What’s next, will they just finance government via a big swear jar? After all, if they can’t say those words on TV, maybe us foul-mouthed cretins should be charged a quarter by the feds each time we use the seven words in our personal lives as well.

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  1. Your swear jar comment reminds me of a Stallone/Bullock movie where if they said any swear word a computer would give them a ticket or something like that.

    Comment by TerryP — January 17, 2008 @ 8:14 am
  2. Ah, “Demolition Man”…of course having those slips around was better than using the seashells in the restroom.

    Comment by UCrawford — January 17, 2008 @ 8:32 am

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