Sin Taxes vs. Sin Subsidies

Redefining Bad Behavior

If you think today’s world disbelieves in sin, think again. But just wait ‘til you hear what it says sin isn’t. Sit tight for BreakPoint!

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Chuck  Colson

Back in the 1970s, acclaimed psychiatrist Karl Menninger wrote a classic book, Whatever Became of Sin? Menninger said that although our society has dropped the sin category, sin remains, and our failure to identify sin as sin has made dealing with it even more difficult.

Well, the great man was only partly right. While some behaviors are no longer called sinful, there’s a growing list of behaviors that government officials now consider to be socially destructive, and thus, subject to what are called “sin taxes.”

Maryland, for example, wants to raise sin taxes on smokeless tobacco to the same level as it does on cigarettes—currently two dollars a pack. In other states, revenue-hungry legislators have proposed new sin taxes on things like ammunition, soft drinks, and even espresso.

Whether “sin taxes” really deter undesirable behavior is debatable. And they don’t seem to be helping government budgets: according to Citizens Against Government Waste, of the 57 state excise tax increases between 2003 and 2007, only 16 met or exceeded revenue projections.

Still, the number of sin taxes is increasing, perhaps because legislators simply want to be on record as opposing the “sins” of alcohol, smoking, and even sugary drinks!

It’s odd, though, that despite this feeding frenzy, nobody is proposing to tax an activity that nearly every previous generation saw as truly sinful and harmful to society: sexual promiscuity.

In fact, the word “promiscuity” is no longer uttered after the word “sexual” in polite company, although the word “freedom” certainly is. And we actually celebrate sexual promiscuity.

Take just the recent example: Georgetown Law student and “reproductive rights” activist Sandra Fluke became a hero to many by demanding that Georgetown University violate its religious convictions and pay for her birth control.

So, now the Sexual Left not only excuses sin, they want us to actually subsidize it.

Here’s the problem: Sexual promiscuity is still a sin. If we can’t tax it, at least don’t make us pay for it! I say this not just because the Bible says it is wrong — indeed, God designed, sex but only to be enjoyed within the safety and sanctity of marriage.

I say this because all the evidence says it’s wrong, too. There’s a sobering new book out by Doctors Joe McIlhaney and Freda Bush, along with Stan Guthrie. It’s called Girls Uncovered: New Research on What America’s Sexual Culture Does to Young Women. According to Girls Uncovered an estimated 19 million cases of sexually transmitted infections occurred in the year 2010. Think of it, about half occurred in fifteen- to twenty-four-year-olds, even though they only represent about 25 percent of the sexually active — read that, promiscuous — population!

The infections include HPV, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, HIV/AIDS, syphilis, and 18 more STIs. Many can produce intense physical pain, scarring, the risk of infecting others, as well as cancer or sterility.

Now folks, if that’s not sin, what is? But our society seems determined on distracting us with “sin taxes” and pseudo-sins while actually subsidizing the real kind. God have mercy on us!

Further Reading and Information

Girls Uncovered
Joe McIlhaney & Freda Bush, with Stan Guthrie | Moody Publishers | 2012

Whatever Became of Sin?
Karl Menninger | Bantam | 1988

Obama to Fluke
Eric Randall | theatlanticwire.com | March 2, 2012

Illinois strip clubs could face $5 'skin tax'
Ray Long & Alissa Groeninger | Chicago Tribune | February 16, 2012

Fighting Senseless Sin Taxes in Maryland
Jeff Stier | Amy Ridenour's National Center Blog | January 24 2012

Maryland cigarette tax increase of 50% proposed, following alcohol tax hike
Kay Bell | Don't Mess With Taxes | October 7, 2011


A modest proposal
How about a "sin tax" on all partisan posturing, absurd legislation and self-consumed political wrangling (talk about paying down the national debt in a moment!)