DebraLee Hovey, a Connecticut state representative who serves the Newtown, Conn. area, has proposed a special 10 percent “sin tax” on violent videogames, specifically those with an “M” for Mature rating.
“In my mind, we do not need to be glorifying violence. What about murder and mayhem have become entertainment in our society?” asked Hovey, a Republican, during an interview with NBC News.
“I think that putting a sin tax—and in my mind this is a sin tax—on the M-rated video games … will cause people to think about what they are actually purchasing.” She wants to use money from this tax to fund a campaign to “educate families on the warning signs of video game addiction and anti-social behavior.”
Missouri State Rep. Diane Franklin, who is also a Republican, has advocated a similar, but much smaller, tax of 1 percent on violent games. Franklin’s tax would hit a broader selection of games with ratings of Teen, Mature and Adult-Only, which means she would be sin-taxing “Guitar Hero” as though it was a digital blood sport.
It is all enough to remind one of the “global warming” philosophy of levying taxes against hypothetical threats in the absence of empirical data. If the door is opened to “think twice” taxes, lawmakers will be headed for a very long list of revenue-raising proposals to consider. The intentions of these representatives are earnest, but their proposals are misguided.