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Letter: 'A tax on addiction is not empathy'

I am not "Big Tobacco." I am not even a smoker. I know better, having never gotten to meet my grandfather, who died of lung cancer due to a lifelong cigarette addiction.

I am not "Big Tobacco." I am not even a smoker. I know better, having never gotten to meet my grandfather, who died of lung cancer due to a lifelong cigarette addiction.

But I'm voting no on Measure 4.

Much has been said about the measure's lack of fiscal accountability, and for good reason. Measure 4's sprawling pages are rich in taxes and regulations and glaringly short on spending limitations. Its supporters dismiss such criticisms as hyperbole. No dice: The measure lists broad categories such as "Health Services," while actual spending is left vague, open-ended and ultimately at the discretion of those getting the new flood of tax dollars.

In short, it provides for "who" gets to spend, without specifying "what on" or even "why."

One answer, supporters say, to the "why" question is "Increased taxes will help people quit." But if only taxes cured addiction instead of burdening the addicted. How many of us have ourselves either been victim to tobacco addiction or have loved someone who wanted to quit but couldn't? These friends and family members may know the habit is costly, hate how the smell of smoke lingers on their clothes, and still fail time and time again.

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My grandfather wanted to quit. He once even calculated how much money he'd save if he did. But quitting is not easy, that's why they call it addiction. And a tax on addiction is not empathy.

We all support caring for our veterans, and the Vote Yes campaign has been wise in making Veterans Services a clean half of its spending pie chart. It almost distracts from the other half of the exorbitant millions Measure 4 would grab and hoard away from our elected legislators, preventing them from using the money to support North Dakota's public schools, infrastructure, or yes, honest efforts to care for our veterans.

Almost.

Evan Halbach

Grand Forks

Related Topics: ELECTION 2016
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