The New York Tobacco Party

The Boston Tea Party’s recent auspicious anniversary on December 16, 1773 brings to mind our modern day protest over tyrannical application of intolerable taxation on goods.  Oppressive taxation and control of tobacco apparently lead to our protest du jour.

A combined State and City of New York tax per pack of 20 cigarettes is listed at $5.85 on the New York Department of Taxation and Finance website.  Other fees are collected by the organs of New York governance to allow a person to sell cigarettes, such as licensing and registration fees.  A pack can sell for in excess of $12 per pack in New York City.  According to a New York Times article, low-income smokers can spend in excess of 25% of their income on cigarettes...intolerable, to say the least.

“Loosy” cigarettes can sell for 75 cents, or maybe 2 for a dollar.  The “profit” from selling loosies is quite small.  While an entire pack of cigarettes may be prohibitive to purchase for those with little disposable income, a loosy or two can be a small indulgence for an affordable price.

Eric Garner was taken into custody by the enforcement branch of the New York government agencies for selling goods desired by the people – i.e., loosies – against the government’s wishes.  The police are not at liberty to pick and choose which laws to enforce; their employer makes those decisions.

From a liberty perspective, one would have to admire Mr. Garner’s New York Tea (or in this case, Tobacco) Party approach to the intolerable taxation of goods desired by the people.  Who then is the King George oppressor in this scenario?  As is typical to so many similar situations when government by the elite confronts personal liberty, the effete members of the liberal aristocracy have determined that the peasant class of New York should not be allowed the slight indulgence of the demon-weed.  They will simply artificially tax it out of the poor’s ability to pay. 

This basic affront to liberty is more than a bit overbearing.  There is not a single person currently alive in our country who does not understand that overuse of tobacco is bad for your health...as are too many jelly beans, too many fast-food hamburgers, crashing in a car, or even running with scissors.  A life lived freely is fraught with peril.  Mortality is still running right around 100%.

The point of departure for Mr. Garner being a patriot in this scenario (not to mention his rather sordid past, but that is not the point in this) was his decision that he would not be arrested.  Again, there is not a single person currently alive in our county who does not know that when the police say you are under arrest, they will not leave until you are under arrest.  You can be under arrest peacefully, or you can be under arrest by various physical means.  While the notion of selling loosies is appealing to a patriotic sense of liberty, fighting with the police is never a good idea.

In the end, Mr. Garner’s morbid obesity and related health issues, and the lack of aggressive assistance from the paramedics when they arrived a few minutes after his arrest, led to his death en route to the hospital.  Ask any morbidly or even slightly obese person if he can breathe when even tying his shoe.  "I can’t breathe" is a given when fighting and being physically detained on the ground.

History has been rewritten to accommodate all manner of defective people.  Perhaps Eric Garner can be remembered in some ways as a patriot, killed fighting oppressive taxation by a tyrannical Democrat government.