Vice Squad
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Discuss This Book

Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution posts about the new book by Vice Squad mentor Phil Cook on alcohol control. Phil's book is Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control, and the blurb from Thomas Schelling is a keeper. I haven't seen the book yet -- I am in Tbilisi, so it might take awhile -- but I did see Phil present a portion of the book last year. Phil is a supporter of raising taxes on alcohol, which also coincides with my view (hmmm, maybe I got it from Phil?). Tyler is unconvinced.

I hope to have more to say about Paying the Tab when I return to Chicago.

Tyler's post, incidentally, induced a comment from me, which I will reproduce below (not that it is the sort of thing that merits repetition)...

The alcohol excise tax falls in real terms every year, because it is not indexed to inflation. In real terms, the current federal excise tax is less than one-quarter of what it was in 1951. If we doubled the federal alcohol excise tax, it would be back at about the level it was at in 1973.

Incidentally, at least one scholar often thought to be a libertarian, John Stuart Mill, thought that it was perfectly appropriate for the government to impose higher tax rates on goods like alcohol.

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