Eliot Spitzer: So Addicted to Taxes, He Wants a Cut of Crack Sales

In New York, they tax the house you live in, the job you work at, the food you eat, the water you drink, the car you drive, the gas you put in it, the road you drive on, and if you have any money left over, they tax your meager savings too.   

Government has to charge you so much so that it can afford all the free services it offers you. Well, that’s the explanation that politicians give, at least. It’s enough to drive you to drink if you think about it too much, which is why they also tax beer, wine and liquor.

Apparently though, New York’s Governor Eliot Spitzer has run out of legitimate businesses to tax oppressively, because he now has proposed a “drug stamp” plan to tax the city’s drug dealers and users as well.

When you look at the drug trade, no doubt you see violence, wasted lives, lost potential, the source of much petty and serious crime and an endless source of human tragedy. When Governor Spitzer looks at this same drug trade, all he sees is a whole lotta money changing hands! As a Democrat, he feels the real tragedy is that he can’t tax his way into a share of those profits, since the whole business is illegal, and thus hidden from the long proboscis of the tax law.

So Gov. Spitzer has proposed to set up a system in which the city’s drug dealers will be given guaranteed anonymity and security to participate in a drug tax system that will prevent them from being charged with state (though not Federal) tax evasion if they are arrested for drug dealing later. Gov. Spitzer has it all thought out.  

You see, the state will print up special “tax stamps,” like the ones that started the Revolutionary War. They will then sell these stamps at special government tax stamp centers throughout the state. Drug dealers will be told they need to pay the tax, so they will all then come in and buy little stamps ($3.50 per gram of marijuana, $200 per gram of cocaine or crack) and then they will put the appropriate number of little stamps on each baggie of pot, coke, or crack.  

When arrested, “Ice-Q” can then proudly point out that his New York state taxes are in order, meaning he will only get 30 years to life for the car load of crack, guns, cash, and underage hookers in his possession. Oh, and also he’ll be nailed by the IRS for Federal tax evasion anyway. But state tax evasion — the number one fear of MS 13 gang members wanted for the machete murders of their rivals’ families — will be off the table for prosecutors. Spitzer thinks this system is so practical, he’s already estimated $13 million dollars in taxes will be collected in the first year.

In and around the proposed stamp centers, no enforcement of drug laws will be permitted, so that the well-intentioned drug dealers entering them will not feel threatened. I suppose outstanding warrants will need to be put aside as well, and goodness knows what the ACLU will do with any drug arrest made within five miles of a drug stamp outlet:

“Your honor, you must drop all charges against my client since he was en route to pay his drug taxes when arrested. His arrest therefore violates Gov. Spitzer’s legal guarantees that those complying with the crack/pot tax would not be punished for doing so.” “Do you have any proof that he was headed to a tax center?” “Yes, your honor. At the time of his arrest he had both a large number of drug baggies on him and a huge amount of cash. Obviously, he was going to buy stamps for the baggies using that cash — and in fact the drug tax office was less than three miles away from where he was arrested.”

It’s a very believable story to a liberal judge.  

Can’t you just imagine a drug lord and his minion chatting one morning: “A-K!” “Yes, Fat Luther?” “Go down to Sancho Villa’s house today and pop a cap in his head. He owes me $3000. Oh, and then go down to the tax store and buy me like 50 sheets of crack stamps. Here’s the $200,000 it’ll cost. I just got this kilo brick in last night, and I don’t want to wrangle with the state tax agency! And get a receipt, I’m going to try to deduct this.”

The idea that this system will do anything but cause problems is patently idiotic, especially when one considers that Spitzer is proposing taxing drugs not to fight them (as was tried in the 1980’s in some states), but as a serious attempt to generate revenue. Spitzer isn’t trying to trap anyone, he just wants his cut.

Politically, this is new tax is a highly questionable move, not just because of the legal challenges that might result to some drug dealers’ prosecutions, but also because drug users are a core constituency for the Democrat party. Spitzer must really be desperate for funds when he begins eating his own this way. Of course, it could be a clever move by Spitzer to secure the VP spot on a Ron Paul ticket this November.  

Anyway, it’s curious too that Gov. Spitzer suddenly seems so worried about lost taxes. He has done everything in his power to make New York a haven for illegal aliens, who are working off the books for cash in an underground economy every bit as untaxed as the drug world. If it’s a measly $13 million in revenue he wants, he could always collect back payroll taxes from the employers of illegal aliens. One sting at a day labor center should give him all sorts of leads.

It is also very unclear to me whether the drug stamps will be self-adhesive or the kind you have to lick. If the lickable kind, that would be a lot of sour licking for some major kingpin to have to do every time he got a shipment of marijuana or cocaine in. Of course, a kingpin probably has someone to do any necessary licking for him. So maybe it’s moot point.  

But the other issues surrounding this proposal seem a little impractical to me, if not to Eliot Spitzer.