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01 August, 2013

Ban It, Then, If It Be So Bad

Australia’s hypocritical and sanctimonious PM, Hon. Kevin Rudd, has decided to increase taxes on smokers with two contradictory aims in mind: first, he hopes to increase revenue in order, inter alia, to bribe voters to support his incompetent but spendthrift government; second (he asserts), he wants people to quit smoking—though that would lead to a substantial reduction in governments’ revenues.  If smoking tobacco be so dangerously evil, the Government could proscribe tobacco products altogether but that, of course, would mean forgoing thousands of millions of dollars of revenue annually.  See “Smokers hit $5.3b to patch Budget black hole”, by Phillip Hudson:
Smokers will cough up an extra $5.3 billion in tax to help the Rudd Government plug a huge new hole in its Budget.
The unusual election-eve notice of a tax grab, adding $5.25 to the price of a pack of 20 cigarettes over four years, is being sold as a step up in the war on smoking-related cancer, which kills 15,000 people a year.
Treasurer Chris Bowen will today announce staged 12.5 per cent tax increases, starting on December 1, aimed both at deterring young people from taking up the habit and helping to repair the Budget.
To “stop kids smoking!” is their claim, to boost the budget is their aim; as bribing voters is their game, they’re totally devoid of shame.
From today, smokers and drinkers will also face a $50 million tax slug.  […]
The Government’s nicotine fix will be a key part of an economic statement to be delivered in coming days.
There has been an estimated $20 billion deterioration in the Budget since it was delivered in May.
The razor gang has been looking at spending cuts and tackling tax breaks.
Mr Bowen said the tobacco tax rise would be on top of regular indexation.
“It provides funds for cancer-related health services; it deters young people from taking up smoking; and of course, it alleviates some of the revenue impacts on the Budget.  There is not a family in Australia that hasn’t been touched by cancer caused by smoking.”
That is untrue: my family hasn’t been touched by any cancer caused by smoking.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who said his mother was a non-smoker who died from passive smoking, said it was a leading cause of preventable death and disease.
Mr. Rudd provides no proof that his mother died “from passive smoking”.
Three years ago Mr Rudd imposed a 25 per cent increase in tobacco tax, adding about $2 to a pack’s price.
Meanwhile, a product which is smoked by millions of Australians—cannabis, in the form of marijuana—is untaxed because it is proscribed.  Unfortunately, the ban on all cannabis products means that hempseed—the most nutritious of all foods—and medicinal cannibis—which may cure many cancers—are also thereby prohibited.

UPDATE I:  see “Own up Mr Rudd. What’s the true cost of smoking?” by Nick Cater:
How much does smoking cost the country?  Hundreds of millions, as the Prime Minister told us yesterday?  $31 billion, as the ABC told us on the news last night?  Is it a staggering $31.5 billion as reported?  Or about $35 billion as Latika Bourke told us at ABC online?
The beauty of shockonomics is that no figure is ever too large to persuade a gullible reporter that is time to get serious about a perceived social vice.
In fact if every smoker gave up smoking today it would cost the government billions of dollars in lost revenue, which far exceeds the expense of health care for smoking-related diseases.
UPDATE II:  of course, when Mr. Rudd holds court to ambassadors, be doesn’t mind the idea of a smoke:
Being told that the Cuban ambassador was out of town, the Prime Minister said to his deputy: “Tell him to bring me back some cigars.”
UPDATE IIIaccording to the Labor-loving journalist (as well as former speechwriter for Australian Labor Party leader Bill Hayden, and member of the board of the Whitlam Institute), Alan Ramsey, in his book, The Way They Were: The View from the Hill of the 25 Years That Remade Australia (Sydney, 2001; p. 42), Kevin Rudd’s mother “died of Parkinson’s disease in 2004”.

UPDATE IVperhaps our duplicitous PM thought that Parkinson’s disease might be caused by passive smoking.  K. Tanaka et al., in their epidemiological study, “Active and passive smoking and risk of Parkinson’s disease”, conclude that “No significant association” with Parkinson’s disease “was detected for passive smoking exposure”; however, “[e]ver having smoked cigarettes was associated with a reduced risk” of developing the disease.

UPDATE Vsee “Active drinking passive smoking”, and comments thereon, at Catallaxy Files.  Mrs. Margaret Rudd, the PM’s mother, m
ore likely died—with sad prescience—of the lamentable effects of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming and worrying over the certain influx of climate refugees.

UPDATE VIsee “The mother of all shameless spinners” by Philippa Martyr at Quadrant Online.

UPDATE VIIthough the Government allegedly wants Australians to smoke fewer cigarettes but pay more for them, it forks out well over a million dollars of taxpayers’ funds on tobacco products for “asylum-seekers” and other immigration detainees; in October, 2011, Simon Benson reported:
the company that manages the detention centres, Serco, has spent, on average, $1.4 million a year on tobacco products for detainees since the 2009-10 financial year.
UPDATE VIII (2 August)the many sides of Kevin Rudd:
at the Heart Foundation (which he addresses as “Heartos”)

The heart attacks which killed my mum

had an evil cause, I think:

at burger bars she’d fill her tum,

so I’ll tax junk food and drink. 

at the Parkinson’s Alliance (which he addresses as “Parkos”)

My mother died of Parkinson’s

such a nasty, bad disease.

I’ll find a way to raise you funds

from new taxes, dues or fees.

at the Lung Disease Foundation (which he addresses as “Lungos”)

Mother’s health had been declining;
she coughed her diagnosis—
phthisis why I hate all mining—
she died from asbestosis.

at the Cancer Council (which he addresses as “Cancos”)

My dear mother was a dancer

who would shine at ev’ry ball,

but she later died of cancer

though she’d never smoked at all.

She was murdered by tobacco—

from her smoking passively.

(I have no proof but yet I know;

and my experts will agree.)

We shall raise tobacco’s levy—

add more taxes, raise the cost—

and with penalties so heavy,

no more mothers will be lost!

UPDATE IX (4 August):  revenues from alcohol and tobacco compared with related heath-care costs, from Nanny State Taxes: Soaking the Poor in 2012 by Julie Novak:

(by way of Catallaxy Files)

UPDATE X (5 August):  see Tim Blair’s “When the Going Gets Weird the Weird Call an Election”:
Perhaps the PM simply has a trick memory. Speaking of which, Rudd’s wife Therese Rein told an interviewer in 2009 how she coped with negative media attention.  “All that stuff goes straight to the Forgettery,” Rein said, explaining that the “Forgettery” is a tradition in the Rein family:  “My mother has one.  I think her mother had one.  Stuff that actually doesn’t matter goes in there.  Stuff that’s not important, stuff that if you carried it with you would be a burden.”
Bizarrely, later in 2009 Rudd claimed to share exactly the same family tradition, saying that he inherited from his own mother her “enormous ability not to take things too personally.  If people slighted her she’d feel it but she wouldn’t take it in.  There’s a family term we used – she had a very good ‘forgettery’.”
That would be your wife’s family, Mr Rudd.
Rudd mentioned his mother again last week in the context of the government’s latest tobacco tax increase, which is driving the cost of cigarettes towards $1 per smoke.  “I’m the son of a woman who never smoked in her life and she died of lung cancer, we assume through passive smoking,”  Rudd said, which is an astonishingly precise diagnosis for a woman who lived to 84.
Medical science can’t pinpoint most causes of lung cancer in the elderly.  Rudd not only has that ability, but uses it to inform his taxation policies.
As other commentators have noted, Rudd is very dependent on family history when it comes to government decisions.  He’s previously cited his wife’s difficulties in obtaining a locally-built hybrid car for the government’s funding of so-called green technology.  Who needs a cabinet?  Indeed, who needs a whole party when the Rudds are an instant and on-call focus group?

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