The Corner

‘Paying With Our Sins’

How will we pay for all the debt the government has accumulated? How will states fill their budget gaps? Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie has an interesting and thought provoking idea in Sunday’s New York Times.

Here’s a better idea — and one that will help the federal and state governments fill their coffers: Legalize drugs and then tax sales of them. And while we’re at it, welcome all forms of gambling (rather than just the few currently and arbitrarily allowed) and let prostitution go legit too. All of these vices, involving billions of dollars and consenting adults, already take place. They just take place beyond the taxman’s reach.

Legalizing the world’s oldest profession probably wasn’t what Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, meant when he said that we should never allow a crisis to go to waste. But turning America into a Sin City on a Hill could help President Obama pay for his ambitious plans to overhaul health care and invest in green energy. More taxed vices would certainly lead to significant new revenue streams at every level. That’s one of the reasons 52 percent of voters in a recent Zogby poll said they support legalizing, taxing and regulating the growth and sale of marijuana. Similar cases could be made for prostitution and all forms of gambling.

Read more here.

While I am in favor of this idea, I just hope that, if implemented, the revenue would not be used to fund the president’s crazy health-care and energy plans. Rather, we should use that money to pay down our debt. Can you imagine the headlines? “Legalize our Sins for the Sake of Children.” While it’s unlikely, it would make for interesting dinner conversations.

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