According to Frank, 5% of all drinkers consume more than 40% of all alcohol consumed. A tax on alcohol would barely affect the vast majority who drink responsibly, because alcohol for them is like salt: “People often ignore increases in the prices of goods that account for only a small share of their total expenditures. If the price of salt were to double, for example, most people would consume the same amount of it as before.” (186)

So, people who drink rarely wouldn’t feel any pain; alcoholism and its consequent ills like traffic accidents would be discouraged without anything resembling the Prohibition; the government would enjoy some extra cash which it might spend even on lowering income taxes, thereby benefitting the great majority of moderate and light drinkers.

The only people who will lose are those heavy drinkers who will refuse to quit in the face of the higher prices. They’ll both be harming themselves and paying more. The alcohol tax then commences an income transfer from these stubborn drunkards to the rest of the populace. What justifies this? I think for Frank and those who agree with him, to imitate Godfather, “They’re animals anyway, so let them lose their [money].”


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