Re-branding generally derogatory labels, economist Walter Williams is sure to outrage the dullards that cannot grasp basic economic realities.
As high tax states, New York in particular, shriek over revenue "lost" to smuggling, tax-hiking politicians should stop their futile lamentations and take a lesson from a man whose understanding of economics and human nature far outshines their narrow, hidebound insistence of elevating policy templates above a reality that has been confirmed time and time again. Walter Williams, in this article to which we link, confirms what we have been saying for years but he offers up a novel assessment of the individuals who make tax collectors’ lives miserable.
"In comes my hero the smuggler to the rescue. He’s the guy who, in effect, tells us, ‘I know the government wants to interfere with your consumption of booze, tobacco, or tea, but I can get a deal for you.’ He might have to run clandestine operations, blackmail and corrupt public officials, but at least you get the item, if it has been prohibited, and for a lower price if it has been confiscatorily taxed."
Smuggler as hero? Surely he jests. Only partially. John Hancock, he of the huge signature on the Declaration of Independence, was a smuggler who outsmarted the British when a confiscatory tax was imposed on molasses. Profits from his smuggling operation helped finance resistance to English authority. Williams is careful to differentiate between heroes like Hancock and the criminals and terrorists who make money beating the system. His main point, however, cannot be disputed. Smuggling in its many forms is always the result when greedy politicians and, in the case of anti-tobacco, greedy parasites violate the economic reality that smuggling is inevitable when the prices of popular items are inflated with an unreasonable tax. Tax hikers can impotently grind their teeth in outrage or they can take Mr. Williams’s lesson to heart and end smuggling by reducing tobacco taxes to a level that consumers will pay.