Here in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we can't marry our sisters any more. That was a great first step in moving the social direction of our state a little closer to the rest of the country.
However, we still have to buy our wine and liquor from approved state-owned retailers, and a big chunk of the price of a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 is tax. According to this article, we've been paying an 18% tax on liquor to pay for the clean up of the Johnstown Flood.
Now I understand that over 2,200 people died that fateful night in 1889. It's a tragedy in anyone's book, no doubt. However, I can't believe we haven't paid for the damages many times over already with that 18% tax. In fact, a quick examination of this PLCB audit shows that they took in an average $173,000 each year over the last five years in "Emergency Tax". Work that forward for seventy years and you get a little over twelve million dollars.
Another example of this at the Federal level is the Federal Excise Tax, which was enacted in 1898 to pay for the Spanish-American War. It was repealed just recently. It manifests as a 3% charge on all local and long-distance phone services and is also paid on cell phone bills. Imagine how much coin this one brought into the government coffers over the years. Makes you wonder why they even need income tax.