I have railed against sin taxes for a long time. The notion that we should raise more money by only increasing the burden on a sector of the populace who engage in a behavior that some disapprove of -- smoking, drinking, gambling -- goes directly against the role our government should play. It is not the job of politicians to try to change your habits for health, financial, or any other reasons.
Yet states continue to pursue this strategy, now more than ever, because they are so cash-strapped. Leaders who don't have the fortitude to pass broader increases instead levy these sin taxes, which they believe don't count against them in the public's mind.
In today's NY Times, Catherine Rampell expands on this intersection of budget and behavior.