Friday, April 22, 2011

NYC Sues Kentucky Cigarette Company

This morning's Wall Street Journal has an article about how NYC's Mayor Bloomberg has filed a federal lawsuit against "a Kentucky-based ring of firms" that have allegedly been selling cigarettes in New York City illegally.

How does that work? Well, it's complicated. You can read the WSJ article yourself, and I urge you read other sources on this matter as well, but the bottom line is this: the taxation of cigarettes is essentially a scam (like most taxes). And when it came to the attention of Mr. Bloomberg that someone was selling cigs and not bothering to mess with his insane and unfair bureaucracy, well, of course he's foaming at the mouth. Just as any other mobster would when they found out someone that ain't got ethics was chiselin' in on their fix, see.

If I own a hammer - if I really own it - it's mine and I can do whatever I want with it, including sell it to you at a yard sale. If you own a pack of cigarettes, theoretically it's just as much your property as your hammer. By what right does some old man behind a desk call the cops and call you a "smuggler" if you sell your pack of cigarettes to some housewife in Forest Hills? Especially when that old man is a billionaire many times over already.

Of course, they say "well, governments must tax things, to pay for important things like roads and schools". That's the same line they used when America invaded the Phillipines in 1899 and forced our ways upon their society. And all this unfair taxation (didn't we start this country in order to get away from this in the first place?) is really paying for all sorts of pork-barrel-project garbage that the public didn't ask for, didn't want, and can't do anything about. Just like in the Phillipines.

It's not about politics - both parties do "tax and spend" equally, and both are taxing things that ought not be taxed (they're even seriously talking about taxing soda pop now) - and Bloomberg has never really been able to decide whether he's a Democrat or a Republican anyway. (I am neither, for the record.)

Having said all that, the WSJ lists the Louisville-based "Chavez, Inc." as a primary defendant in the investigation, and they have something of a bad reputation, although that means nothing to me. I don't necessarily believe everything I read on the internet, not even my own blog. According to WFPL, Chavez Inc. was raided by federal agents in late 2009 and all of their assets were seized, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Kentucky has an ongoing civil lawsuit against them.

The report also says, "Lawyers for Chavez have said the company was not legally obligated to collect taxes on out-of-state sales."

Chazez, Inc. has also been in trouble with the FDA for allegedly flouting Obama's reprehensible ban on flavored cigarettes, which instantly left tobacco stores across the nation stuck with product they could no longer sell, including clove cigarettes.

I don't know anything about these Chavez folks - I just read the papers and the internet same as you - but it certainly seems as if much of their activities fall under that growing group of citizens whose activities were once perfectly legal and they were made into criminals overnight by the stroke of some corrupt politician's pen.

The solution, of course, is less taxation, less government, and more outrage when someone nib-noses into another person's business and tries to tell them what they can't do. (I understand this philosophy is a major plank of the Tea Party, but I'm not one of them, either.)


Anonymous said...

I'll agree shamelessly with your libertarian ways. Right on. Let people do what they want, the politicians will eventually corrupt everything they touch.

Anonymous said...

Tobacco is a controlled substance, so of course you cant resell it.

JSH said...

Actually, no, anonymous, that's incorrect.

"The term 'controlled substance' means a drug or other substance, or immediate precursor, included in schedule I, II, III, IV, or V of part B of this subchapter. The term does not include distilled spirits, wine, malt beverages, or tobacco"

And it's beside the point anyway, because I am not interested in legal distinctions. My position is that taxation of tobacco is fundamentally immoral, regardless of whether some doofuses in government are making laws that contradict me.

Nicosia said...

I totally agree JSH. Yet another reason I am a Libertarian.