For only three cents, you too can stop STDs..

Astonishing report in Forbes.com titled A Beer Tax Won’t Reduce the Clap.

Not only a grabber of a headline but a whiplash of an aftershock in wondering what the alternative position would be. Seems lettered senior medical directors Lloyd I. Sederer of the New York State Office of Mental Health and Dr. Eric Goplerud of the Center for Integrated Behavioral Health Policy at George Washington University. have come to the conclusion that “a tax increase of 3 cents per beer would cut youth gonorrhea by 9%”.

Lets leave aside the original impulse to track beer tax rates against youth gonorrhea rates over time (full marks for originality are given) but consider this current growth in levying taxes on goods in order to change public behaviors.

1. If you are really serious about this, one would think that adding a few dollars tax to the beer might have more of an effect on the gonorrhea rates….if just three cents buys you nine percent, you might just make a dent in some other STDs as well and maybe even into the adult incidence.

2. But really, these are just the baby steps toward the Holy Grail of eliminating choice. There is a point of taxation where for some the purchase becomes impossible rather than difficult; the choice has been forced. Let’s just be done with it and remove all discretionary income. It only leads to disease it seems. After all it is discretionary income that purchases vehicles which are necessary for accidents, that purchases alcohol which can also lead to falls or poisoning (and don’t forget the STDs), that purchases cigarettes which cause disease. Sure, discretionary income and the freedom to use it can make life more pleasurable but is a little bit of pleasure really worth the possibility of disease, obesity, or even death?

Look, I’m not saying that removing discretionary income would eliminate accidents and disease but as the source study author in all their evidence based wisdom put it, it could.

And you can bet that there are a few folks out there who are even now , with furrowed brow, drawing lines between these STD rates, heart attacks and second hand smoke regulations. I’m sure there is some correlation to be found.

I do have an alternative hypothesis regarding this interaction and that is if you made alcohol very cheap it might in fact reduce STD rates. The same people who would take advantage of cheap booze and then lay about the house all day drinking might just be the same folks who would otherwise be most likely to otherwise go out and spread those interesting venereal conditions. I’m not saying that it would happen but it could.

I’m just saying.

-PLB

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