The Nonprofiteer is a full-service blog: not only do we tell nonprofits how they can raise money, we tell governments how they can raise money! Or at least we pass along useful information we find, such as that contained in a recent David Leonhardt column in the New York Times. The column pointed out the hidden alcohol subsidy that deprives governments at all level of funds they could use to–well, to combat the deleterious effects of alcohol use.
Mr. Leonhardt speaks elegantly for himself:
Taxes serve a purpose beyond merely raising general government revenue. Taxes on a given activity are also supposed to pay the costs that activity imposes on society. And for all that is wonderful about wine, beer and liquor, they clearly bring some heavy costs.
Right now, the patchwork of alcohol taxes isn’t coming close to covering those costs. . . .
The argument for higher tobacco taxes is simple enough. They help pay Medicare and Medicaid bills for tobacco-related illnesses and also lead to a decline in smoking. On average, a 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes
causes about a 5 percent drop in smoking, studies show. Not even
addiction, it turns out, can overcome the laws of supply and demand.
If anything, the argument for higher alcohol taxes is even stronger.
Tobacco kills many more people than alcohol, but it mainly kills those
who use the product. Many alcohol victims are simply driving on the
wrong road at the wrong time. Many are also quite young.
So, let’s review: More money for public purposes, check. Reduced drinking and the ancillary damage associated therewith–everything from auto accidents to domestic violence –check.
You know how this was going to be the year your agency finally got going with its advocacy efforts? Let us suggest that–whatever the focus of your nonprofit’s work–this idea would be a perfect place to start.