“I Predict A Riot (the slight return)”

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Nobody really likes it when taxes go up, not even those that lean farthest to the left.

As the smoke literally cleared from the air of local establishments, and smokers were left out in the cold when the “Clean Air Act” goes into effect, the ones that haven’t quit cold turkey are twitching just as badly when they see how much a pack of “lung darts” are costing these days.

The buck per pack that is now the tax for cigarettes, up 156 percent from the 39 cents per pack that it was just a few months ago, is hurting the smokers in their pocketbooks, rather than just hurting their lungs with every puff.

What’s next, the taxation of Nicorette and “the patch?”

It’s almost as if they know it’s going to kill you, so they might as well bleed as much money out of you as they can on your way out.

It’s like what the Scottish government used to do when the heroin epidemic was raging over there in the “Trainspotting” years. They would spend money to put addicts on methadone as a substitute for the illegal drug, but studies showed that it was actually more addictive than the heroin so the addicts never were rehabilitated, but they had to pay the government for their meds. Plus, they couldn’t get jobs as they were flagged for being addicts, and as a result, could not rent a flat without a job. So, they were eventually put back on the streets where they did … you guessed it, more heroin.

Now obviously, I’m not saying that smoking butts is similar to “chasing the dragon” but government trying to create sanctions behind the guise of the “greater good” or “promoting a healthier lifestyle” is sometimes quite transparent when they are making a great deal of cash out of it.

As with anything else however, someone has to pay, one way or another.

So now as smokers look for a place that they can puff in peace, there is now a bill looming in the state senate to raise the price of booze.

You can’t hike the price of booze in Ocean City, as there will no doubt be riots.

And not the kind of riots that happen when the Nintendo Wii goes on sale on Black Friday or when “Runaway Bride” comes back into stock in Berlin movie stores.

It’s not just a subtle hike that Senator Jennie M. Forehand of Montgomery County is proposing either. The bill calls for a $3 hike per gallon for distilled spirits or liquor to the lay person, an 80-cent hike for wine, and a 46 cent hike for beer (all per gallon amounts).

Obviously, people are up in arms, as booze drinking is certainly the bread and butter for holiday fun for the majority of people that frequent this family resort. As odd as that last sentence reads, anyone that has spent more than a New York minute in this town knows that it’s true. I mean the only thing more abundant in this town than liquor licenses is condominiums.

So, this most recent proposal is a bit of a concern for not only the people that visit this little resort town, but also to the business owners that have to purchase said liquor at a higher price, and then raise their own prices for the already bled-dry consumer.

Let’s think of it this way if in fact this bill were to go through and go into effect: The average driver has to use at least a tank of gas to get to this town, and I’m not the first to realize that gas prices are, as the say in Boston, wicked high. Then, once they get here, they have to spend between $300 and $400 for a hotel room, or a few grand for a week’s condo stay, and then hope that they have a few dollars left over to go out a night or two while they are here.

Once they do go out, food prices are up a bit as the companies that deliver the food are now charging a higher fee to compensate for the gas prices, and the booze drink that they would like to enjoy to take the edge off of all of these and every other worry that life brings their way is now an extra dollar or two more.

Now I call that a holiday.

It should be mentioned that Ocean City still does not have New York or even Philadelphia drink prices, although it’s getting there. You can still get a round of drinks for $20 in some area establishments, as long as you stay in the draft beer and rail drink families.

I guess if there was ever an issue for Ocean City locals to get “their panties in a bunch” over it would be this proposed bill. Just like the government funds some of its ridiculous spending habits with “sin taxes”, Ocean City locals fund their families on the desires of vacationers to “sin” and indulge in the eating, drinking and hope to in fact “be merry” without having to take out a loan in order to do so.

When I was growing up and was taught in health class that pretty much everything that I thought at age 7 tasted good was more than likely saturated in unhealthiness and topped with three layers of sugar, I was a bit downtrodden. Now as an adult, the fact that you see how things work, and perhaps coupled with the fact that I just finished reading “Freakonomics”, I realize that even the things that are supposed to be a reward for all your hard work: vacation, family time, and even the occasional glass of wine, can come at a price that is downright maddening.

So the question is: can we ever really relax without paying dearly for it?

Maybe the good senator can get through the hard times with a box of Franzia White Zin in her fridge, but some people need to get out and enjoy a wine that wasn’t made in December of ‘07.

Healthy food isn’t that cheap either. Have you looked at the price per gallon of organic milk or anything that is considered low fat?

If they are going to tax the hell out of items and products that are bad for us, why don’t they give us some sort of break on the stuff that they say is in fact, good for us?

It would be a “good faith” kind of thing that government could do for us that would help a lot more than the ridiculous $600 tax refund that is supposed to jumpstart the economy.

You know that you will take that money if you get a check and pay for your astronomically high electric and gas bills anyway.

Or, perhaps you’ll do like a naysayer suggested in a recent email, when he said, “poor folk will probably just spend their refund on smokes and lotto tickets.”

Now there’s something they haven’t taxed yet: lotto tickets.

Email me at domspino@yahoo.com.

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