So Called “Vices” Should Not be Heavily Taxed

You will frequently hear the argument that so-called “vices” should be legal but heavily taxed. However does that concept up to any intellectual scrutiny?

The difference between a “vice” and a “necessity” is linked to the individuals tastes on that matter.

So, if somebody says that opiates should be legal but heavily taxed, the ‘high taxation’ bit is linked to the persons beliefs and lifestyle rather than any real excessive harm. How much economically quantifiable damage is caused by those under the influence of alcohol versus that due to ALL non-prescription use of opiates? While a lot of crime is committed to buy opiates, very little crime is committed under its influence.

Even if we factor in early death from occasional opiate addiction, who consumes more health resources over their lifetime- the frail husk of a 90-year old woman or a guy who ODed and died in his 40s?

This applies for almost every single of so-called “vices” I can think of. From prostitution to drug use to excessive eating , the real cost of these “vices” is negative, neutral or minimum.

PS– Even a morbidly obese person consumes less health resources (total) than an old person who lives in assisted living facility for the last decade of their life.


  1. anon666
    December 2, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    The effects of widespread obesity is extremely negative, mainly because it reduces the number of available attractive women while also inflating the egos of those who aren’t fat (as they end up being regarded as special by men and receive far more attention than they would in a society where all females were thin). I’ve been to the Baltic states, where thin is normal, and women don’t have the same massive egos there, in part because being thin and decent looking doesn’t differentiate them.

    Also, widespread obesity causes the negative externality of visual pollution. I like being able to see visually attractive things in public places, not ugly things.

  2. P.T. Barnum
    December 2, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    The argument that they should be taxed is quite simple. The state has a right to tell you what to do. It doesn’t want you to do something, it is going to tax it.

    CONservatives, who believe in freedom of choice and freedom from government control have no problem with this because they are CONservatives. They absolutely believe the government has the right to tax, jail, or terrorize in any way people doing something they don’t like. As for “harm society”….. you mean society gets less “profit” from it’s owned slave, right? Because a lot of taxed vices costs are imposed on the person alone. But since that person is “part of society” society has an interest in getsing as much as it can gets from him.


    That was the simplified version of CONservative philosophy. Man UNBOUND as chained slave whose output is carefully monitored. And there WILL BE weekly reports on productivity.

    I have always wondered about what percentage of CONservatism is linked to greed as opposed to plain stupidity.

  3. P.T. Barnum
    December 2, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Oh, and people who want to whine about “negative externality” will have to explain the their moo-cow silence on all manner of rich dumb-ass stunts that impose massive and crushing “negative externalities”. You know, like the Federal Reserve created Housing Bubble. Now there is some hot negative externality *bleep*.

    Of course, then they transform into their awesome Legal Beagle Form where all that isn’t illegal is OKAY. No morality or Negative Externality need even be mentioned.

    • anon666
      December 2, 2010 at 4:01 pm

      Um, if you’re referring to me, I was talking about not wanting to look at fat chicks all day. If you like the fatties, just say it! Nothing that you’re talking about has anything to do with that though.

      • P.T. Barnum
        December 2, 2010 at 6:49 pm

        Ah, the I can only talk about what you allow me to talk about move.

        Well-played sir!

      • December 3, 2010 at 5:37 pm

        Most fat women have large breasts. I find that being surrounded by fat women is tolerable if you concentrate on their breasts and mentally remove the rest of the unpleasantness. Just a hint.

  4. Nestorius
    December 3, 2010 at 1:46 am

    What about taxes on the vice of greed? Isn’t greed a vice?

  1. December 5, 2010 at 4:08 am

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