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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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Sin taxes and civil liberties: A matter of scale

I have read a lot of articles in the Collegian over the years that I’ve marked as questionable in taste, but I have to admit, the guest column written last week by Tyler Drum is the winner of the Most Poorly Thought Out Column of the year award. While I sympathize with the fact that the government is indeed not your real dad and he can’t tell you what to do, putting sin tax on the scale of depriving people of basic human rights is a little much.

Let’s step back for a moment and look for the reasoning behind the respective laws that you mentioned. Sin tax is derived from the idea that these luxury items are harmful to the body and therefore, by making the choice to purchase them, people should be forced to pay a little extra.


That is to say, when people are blowing smoke in your face and spreading harmful chemicals, you can at least take solace in the fact that they have to pay a little more for slowly killing themselves and everyone around them.

Soda has seen much the same problem as America is a notoriously overweight nation due to the prominence of advertising and the lack of education given to younger children on how to control their diet. The tax there serves the purpose of encouraging people to treat their bodies and other people with some decency, but still giving them the option to choose what they want.

Now, a whole group of people that can’t get married because of their sexual orientation –– that’s a bit different. See, instead of having homosexuals pay an extra dollar for their wedding, they just can’t marry.

There is no choice involved there; it is banned on the bases of religious beliefs. You know, religion, that thing that all American’s agreed from the get-go should not have the power to dictate policy. There is no logical basis for this law other than bias. It’s the same logic that was used to make sure colored people couldn’t vote for most of the United States’ existence, or to turn women into second class citizens.

If you honestly think that making luxury items cost a little more money is comparable to people taking away your human rights, I don’t even know where to begin with the mental gymnastics that you must be going through trying to justify that statement.

Even looking at the bills cited in the column makes me wonder if you’ve read them. The land appropriation bill has nothing to do with “your” land. It is set to define what dictates blighted land, which I doubt that you own, and whether it can be used for urban renewal. The bill that disallows minors to talk on their cell phones while driving is, at worst, common sense.

I get that you want to call your BFF Jill while you’re driving, but it has the possibility of causing harm — not only to you, but to others around you — when you drive your car into the back of someone because you just had to engage in small talk while on the road.

The last bill you referenced is the most mind blowing of the group, as it is set to give tax breaks to solar energy funding. If you haven’t been living under a rock for, well, your entire life, you know that the energy crisis is a clear and present danger to the economic independence of this country. The bill aims to support alternative sources of energy in Colorado; something has to be done if we want to see growth in these sectors. Good thing we don’t already give tax breaks to oil companies who are providing temporary, unclean energy. Oh, wait.

Paying fifty cents more for your Coke is not the same as taking away your basic human rights. People telling you to drive safely and consider the wellbeing of those around you when you smoke is not “controlling your life.”


Also, voting for one of the two parties in a two party system is a joke. If you really want to see revolutionary change, start a revolution. If not, don’t pretend your politician is going to make things different. It’s the same bureaucratic nonsense we’ve been fed from the start and I can promise you at the end of “business as usual,” you may be able to actively harm those around you more, but you won’t feel any freer.

Brian Fosdick is a junior journalism major. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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