Do you know what the average cost is for a pack of cigarettes in New York?
Do you know how much of that total is state taxes?
Why are the taxes so much? I'd venture to say at least some of the tax represents New York lawmakers' efforts to try to get people to quit smoking, or at least cut down, or maybe not start in the first place.
My favorite political commentator, Jonah Goldberg, a few months ago wrote "If you want more of something, tax it less. If you want less of something tax it more."
I'd say that makes sense. It certainly seems logical that the more something costs -- whether through taxes or free-market pressure -- the fewer people will be able, or maybe willing, to buy it.
Are you ready for this? Our federal government, in all its wisdom, has just announced through the Department of Agriculture that it won't tax the sale of every real Christmas tree sold this year 15 cents as it had planned. The tax was set to go into effect on Wednesday.
Why? you might ask, would the Obama administration tax Christmas trees? Is it against Christmas or Christmas trees?
Was this some sort of effort to get people to buy artificial trees rather than fresh ones, thereby protecting the environment?
That's a logical assumption based on the far-left environmental stance of this administration; but you'd be wrong again.
Nope, your fresh Christmas tree would have cost 15 cents more this year because the USDA wanted to underwrite a marketing committee whose mandate would have been to improve our opinion of fresh Christmas trees.
Evidently, unknown to many of us, fresh Christmas trees have been suffering a loss of good will and support.
And since government's job is to stick its nose into absolutely everything, it was going to step in and do its part to try to elevate our opinion of the Christmas tree.
I am not making this up.
The White House pulled the plug on the plan as critics became more vocal throughout the day.
Their defense: George Bush did it!
No, I'm kidding.
Their defense is that some Christmas tree growers asked the government to collect the tax so they could do a fresh Christmas tree version of the dairy farmers' "Got Milk?" campaign.
So let me get this straight: In an effort to create more demand for fresh Christmas trees, they were going to raise the price of each tree by 15 cents. Is that about right?
No wonder they can't fix the economy.