I’ve often written about the fact that I believe that “sin taxes” – excise taxes on things that are ostensibly bad for us and should therefore be discouraged – are usually more about raising revenue than modifying behavior. I say this despite the fact that our legislators in this country swear that isn’t the case. But you and I? We know better.
Over in Russia, they don’t bother with such niceties. They simply come clean about such matters. You see, the Russian economy, like ours, is in a bit of a funk. Or is that “was” in a bit of a funk? According to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, their economy has rebounded just fine. Putin, speaking earlier today, said:
Our economy has managed to overcome the recession in a relatively short time because people felt that the government sought to protect their interests.
And who wouldn’t believe a world leader who releases official vacation photos as if he’s auditioning for an Old Spice commercial?
Of course the Russian government seeks to protect the interests of its people. We know this not just because Putin (who could give Isaiah Mustafa a run for his rubles) told us so but because we can see the concern and the caring in its policies. Take the economy, for example. Here, in the US, our Congress is content to argue about raising taxes and making tax cuts. But in Russia? There’s no discussion about what’s best for individuals. It’s all about what’s best for the
state country. And what’s best for the country? Paying more in taxes.
You see, Russia recently announced that they would be raising taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. This is a nation where 65% of men smoke and where its citizens consume almost twice the global average of pure ethanol alcohol each year. So clearly, Russia is seeking curb these types of abuses.
Or, er, not so much. Actually, they’re apparently trying to make money off of them.
Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin is encouraging Russians to smoke and drink in order to boost the economy. Engaging in these behaviors will save the day because they’re generating more revenue. Kudrin said, for example, that smoking cigarettes means that “you are giving more to help solve social problems.” In other words, you can puff those economic woes away.
Kudrin went on to encourage both smoking and drinking by saying:
People should understand: Those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the state.
Got that? Do your part to save Russia: smoke more, drink more. Everyone’s happy! Somewhere, Mr. Stolichnaya is weeping a little: little tears of joy and rye.