Sunday, October 02, 2005

Smoke and mirrors


nissan _shift

It's no secret that the King Bee smokes. (Well, I guess it might be a secret to those of you [like 1 per eon perhaps] who have read this blog without actually seeing me in real life. But even in that case, I've written about smoking before, so if you still didn't know, you're completely daft.) Naturally, you can probably understand how I felt when I saw that there may be yet another sin tax imposed on this, my most favorite of pasttimes.

This isn't really what makes me so upset. Until smokers really feel like quitting, they are not going to. You could make every cigarette cost 10 dollars, and have it only legal to smoke them between 3am and 3:25am on the fifth Sunday of every month (if/when it occurs) on an ancient Indian burial ground. I would still be there, huddled around other fearful smokers as we braved the spirits that no doubt haunt said places.

What makes me so upset is the logic (or lack thereof) involved with these taxes.

So, when I saw that the Government of the Student Body at ISU voted to increase the tax (as a statement to the board of Regents that everyone at ISU is in favor of such a tax) I flipped out. Again, not because my sin sticks would cost more, but because of the logic involved. You can (and probably should if you want to understand the rest of this entry) read the article here.

If you read that, you'll find something terribly disturbing. So, I decided that the time had come for me to write an editorial and email it to the paper. Here's what the editorial said:

In response to another attempt to take care of those who are believed not to be able to take care of themselves, GSB has decided to let the Iowa Board of Regents know that raising the price of a pack of cigarettes $1 is a motion supported by the ISU student body. Naturally, this is just the next step in the war on tobacco, a war waged only because the war on (illegal) drugs was too hard to fight. However, this isn't exactly what I have a problem with; I have a different question entirely.

I'm really quite curious to know when exactly it was that GSB decided that logic is not to be allowed in the room when a debate is taking place.

On one hand, GSB believes that if cigarettes cost more, less people may pick up the expensive habit, and some smokers may even quit. Sounds great, considering we're all so aware of the health risks involved with smoking.

On the other hand, we find that that this resolution was passed for financial reasons as well. The tax increase is supposed to generate revenue, something everyone loves.

The contradiction here between these two "reasons" is so glaring that I have not seen intellectual curtains as thick as the ones GSB must have on the windows in their war room that block out the warm rays of logic and reason. Heaven forfend that one would be forced to actually have a logical reason to tax cigarettes.

You can't really generate revenue if people stop smoking, and you can't stop people from smoking if you plan on generating more revenue. We all understand that you're trying to "fight the good fight" and all that jazz, but please, think before you decide to tell a newspaper what your reasons are for endorsing a tax hike as large as this.

King Bee
Graduate Student
Mathematics


Actually, that's not exactly what it said, because I left out a verb (gasp) in that final clause in that final sentence, a mistake that puts me on par with the disgusting mildew that builds up on shower curtains. I fixed it here; if this thing actually gets published, we can see if they left it out as well, convincing me that the editors there are terrible human beings. I'll write a follow-up post should such a thing occur.

I'm still trying to figure out this "last.fm" shit, the thing that's going to be able to tell you what songs to be listening to. I'll keep you posted on that.

Comments:
This is a min-max problem. I write these all the time, except I use newspaper subscriptions. The newspaper knows that 40,000 people subscribe to the paper when it costs 35 cents and research indicates that 1,000 less people will subscribe when the cost increases by 2 cents. Find the optimal price for each newspaper to generate the most revenue.

What I don't understand is why is the GSB "endorsing" such. Why don't they work on things that really matter and are in their purview, like finding ways to keep tuition down and services up.

Maybe next week the GSB will endorse MyMathLab with MathXL, or perhaps, they will reject the endorsement of square root 68 being a legitimate respond.

By the way, the optimal price for my newspapers above.... 58 cents. It's a money problem.

Dr Num
 
Dr Num -

I am aware of the optimization problems of which you speak, but nowhere in the article did they choose their words carefully enough to insinuate that that was what they meant.

In fact, by Groh's estimate, a person who smokes a pack a day wastes 140 minutes of their waking life every day doing nothing but smoking. Perposterous.
 
Many times when you smoke, you do something else as well, like sitting around in stomping grounds, playing pool or drinking. If you could smoke in the university you could even study while you are smoking and don't waste any time at all.

Mars
 
The more I study history and economics, the more I realize morality is just a front for getting majority approval, since the common man cannot understand complex economic or political issues that may trigger an action such as a declaration of war, or in your case, a sin tax. However, the common man is generally capable of understanding moral issues, especially when it comes to what other people's morals should be, regardless of whether the said issue is actually a moral one.

In short, Marx was right when he said everything revolves around economics. And morality is just another opiate that satisfies man's longing for meaning, lest he appear greedy by actually admitting his own desire for control.

Whoa, I just typed that in like 25 seconds. I'm getting back to my Cheez-its, now.
 
no wonder you're a communist, jack

-jow
 
Dude, I'm not a Communist anymore. I just have these minute-long blackouts in which I go on about Marx, and then I wake up and go OMGWTFBBQ?
 
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