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Texas Taxes Titties
January 8, 2008 2:35 PM   Subscribe

The poll tax caused massive rioting in the UK. Will the pole tax move Texans to do the same? There's an interesting class-war aspect to the story. The bill specifies that the revenue generated will support sexual assault prevention programs, though the bill's legality is being litigated.
posted by aerotive (51 comments total)

 
I'd like to meet the boobs who thought that up.
posted by mmrtnt at 2:43 PM on January 8, 2008


I read about this yesterday. I do not think that the legal challenge will be successful as I do not think a Court is going to find it to be an occupation tax any more than a sales tax is an occupation tax on salesman.

I think it is a great idea. I'm all for any kind of consumption-like tax.
posted by dios at 2:45 PM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ah yes, this. I don't have any problems with this either.
posted by puke & cry at 2:56 PM on January 8, 2008


Elsewhere, it's been reported that there may be some troubling unintended consequences. From the Austin Chronicle:
At the hearing, the state argued that sexually oriented businesses (as traditionally defined) are causally linked to sexual violence, but the comptroller's rules are expected to use the new, expanded definition of sexually oriented business. So if the stage play Equus – starring Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in a fully nude scene and opening on Broadway next year – tours in Texas, under the draft rules, any theatre that hosts the play might well have to collect the surcharge.
Full story here: Does Harry Potter Cause Sexual Violence? Only in Texas.
posted by chipr at 3:03 PM on January 8, 2008


I briefly skimmed the text of the bill, and it requires the $5 for each entry, by each customer. Does that mean if a customer goes outside to smoke, or retrieve something from a car, for example, that the $5 is collected again upon re-entry? Or would the customer have to actually leave the premises, or what?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:09 PM on January 8, 2008


There's some evidence that alcohol increases the likelihood of sexual violence, so why not a $5 tax on every beer?

Because that would genuinely cause a riot. It's hard for people to oppose something like this without looking like so-called deviants in 'decent' society. But propose a beer tax for rape victims (or hell, drunk driving accident victims), and everyone would grab a pitchfork.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:22 PM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mr Crash, I suspect a handstamp would exempt one from further taxation.

mgonzales: How are you equating this tax with a beer tax for rape victims? Seems quite a non-sequitur.
posted by dosterm at 3:33 PM on January 8, 2008


i think we should tax legislation
posted by pyramid termite at 3:35 PM on January 8, 2008


But it seems our nation finds legislation so very taxing.
posted by Mister Cheese at 3:37 PM on January 8, 2008


It's just Texan prudes shoving their morality down everyone's throats and out their wallets.

While we're at it, let's tax automobile owners $1000 a year for the collective maiming and manslaughter they cause to pedestrians and cyclists, to help pay for hospital costs and funeral expenses.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:38 PM on January 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


While we're at it, let's tax automobile owners $1000 a year for the collective maiming and manslaughter they cause to pedestrians and cyclists, to help pay for hospital costs and funeral expenses.

they do - it's called mandatory car insurance
posted by pyramid termite at 3:40 PM on January 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is a very interesting tax, I'm not aware of anything quite like it in Canada though I'm not sure if you could mount a charter attack against it.

"Smaller clubs are worried that their patrons cannot or will not pony up five measly dollars, a prediction that may prove true but is certainly rather depressing."

This would only be depressing for owners of clubs and their patrons. Imagine the impact on say, movie theatres, if the state imposed a $5 tax on each admission to an action movie and set that aside to support violence against men. I also imagine it's going to have a depressing effect on the wages of the strippers as the majority of that $5 will probably come directly out of their tips.

dosterm writes "mgonzales: How are you equating this tax with a beer tax for rape victims? Seems quite a non-sequitur."

Consumption of beer probably contributes to more rapes than the consumption of erotica.

pyramid termite writes "they do - it's called mandatory car insurance"

How is that a tax collected by the state?
posted by Mitheral at 4:01 PM on January 8, 2008


commercials for the lodge, in dallas, boast that its customers enjoy "women, manly steaks, cigars and women"...

so...how do i know that wasn't an effeminate steak i ate last night, or, is there some queer steer near here?
posted by bruce at 4:14 PM on January 8, 2008


Welcome to Texas. Unofficial state motto: "The gun is good. The penis is evil."
posted by iviken at 4:16 PM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


they do - it's called mandatory car insurance

The government offers auto insurance? News to me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:27 PM on January 8, 2008


"mandatory car insurance" ... How is that a tax collected by the state?

Here in Australia I just got a bill for my car registration and compulsory third-party insurance. I have to pay the Department for Planning and Infrastructure. I realise it's a little bit less direct in Texas, but if you're told you can't drive without paying for insurance --- and they check, and they'll suspend your license until you pay --- then as far as most people are concerned, that's a tax. They've just outsourced the collection to the private sector.

GamePolitics.com is covering a similar proposal in Winsconsin, where a senator wants to "add a 1% surcharge to video game purchases in order to fund a juvenile justice program." This was mentioned briefly in the Economist article in the original post.
posted by robcorr at 4:32 PM on January 8, 2008


That's nothing. A town in Missouri is proposing a bill banning swearing in bars, along with table-dancing, drinking contests and profane music.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:33 PM on January 8, 2008


This is going to make the kids at SPI at Spring Break wet T-shirt contests quite upset.

But propose a beer tax for rape victims (or hell, drunk driving accident victims), and everyone would grab a pitchfork.

If all bars in the Lone Star state that served alcoholic beverages had a $5.00 admission with funds directed to anti-drunk driving programs (it is undisputed that drinking alcohol cause people to get drunk, so how could someone vote against it?), it would not only meet the pitchforks of the patrons and bar owners, it would meet the wrath and very deep pockets of the alcoholic beverage industry. I can't get wine or beer over the internet because the booze lobby in this state so strong.

The only reason this wasn't killed in committee was the nudie bar industry did not have the lobbyist in Austin buying drinks (and probably lap dances) for the state legislators. Considering the pervs in in the lege, I'm surprised there isn't specific language in the bill exempting legislators from the tax. I'm sure they will go to the bars like they always do but will bring their tax exempt letters.
posted by birdherder at 4:36 PM on January 8, 2008


MetaFilter Tax: $5. Goes to support the abuse.
posted by davejay at 5:38 PM on January 8, 2008


Here in Australia I just got a bill for my car registration and compulsory third-party insurance. I have to pay the Department for Planning and Infrastructure. I realise it's a little bit less direct in Texas, but if you're told you can't drive without paying for insurance --- and they check, and they'll suspend your license until you pay --- then as far as most people are concerned, that's a tax.

Most people would be wrong then. Mandatory insurance is not a tax. It doesn't pay compensating people for damage that others have done, it's limited strictly to paying for damage that you yourself have done. If people don't like such an arrangement, then perhaps you could insist that only drivers who can pay a million dollar bond should be allowed on the road? Given that most people don't have a spare million to hand, insisting that they take out insurance protects everybody by ensuring that we don't have to pay for the consequences of somebody else's negligence or stupidity.

I wonder how Texans would feel about a proportional tax on the cost of guns and ammunition, to pay for the health care and make any necessary restitution to people who were injured in shooting incidents? At the very least, mandatory insurance for gun owners would seem reasonable.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:06 PM on January 8, 2008


Is it okay if I pay in ones?
posted by Standeck at 6:06 PM on January 8, 2008


Yawn. Let me see if I can get this all figgered out:

The Economist is clutching its pearls over

1. sin taxes, which have been around for over 200 years in the U.S.
2. that Texas has lots and lots of strip clubs, and
3. that Texas has lots and lots of hypocritical legislators who love to legislate morality.

Does that about sum it up?

In other breaking news, Britney Spears might not be a virgin!

Most annoying to me is the causality suggested. I'm guessing this was spotted by some eagle-eyed Republican as an opportunity to extract another few million to fix the state health insurance crisis. "Oh, 'n we better give some money to rape victims too, 'cuz otherwise the club owners will rightfully go, 'Hey, how come we're gettin taxed to fix y'all's medical insurance mistake?' Only... heh heh... them Dems shore cain't afford to argue that stripping ≠ rape, especially not the year before a presidential election! And speakin of election years, this shore will look good to the fundies back in the Old Hometown. Passed to third reading!"

Professionally, I'm compelled to say that, even if it's ethically devoid, it's a fairly savvy political move -- especially if you're a gang already known for blatant partisanship + playing fast and loose with rules. Take the money where you can, when you can, Mr. Craddick -- 'cause the times they are a-changin'.

(Anyone inclined to just default to the typical easy Texas-bashing... well, I'm tired, so just pretend that everything I already said at the Texas-bashing MeTa, I have repeated here if appropriate.)
posted by pineapple at 6:10 PM on January 8, 2008


I can't wait to see how they go about enforcing this. Are there going to be tax collectors staking out clubs taking counts?

Maybe it'll be like a reverse sweeps week where one week of counting determines the tax for the whole year/quarter. Clubs will put on the worst no talent performers they can in the hopes that people will stay away.

Seems like if this is a revenue stream you wanted to pursue it would be a lot easier to base the tax on the square footage of the club possibly modified by number of shows or open hours.
posted by Mitheral at 6:28 PM on January 8, 2008


I can't wait to see how they go about enforcing this.

simple enough - plainclothes police - if they're not charged the extra 5 bucks, they raid the place and close it down

after a couple of nights of that, the bar owners will get it and start charging

for myself, i think it's a ridiculous tax - they're just gouging someone because they can - and when the places start closing down because of it, where's the revenue in that?
posted by pyramid termite at 7:03 PM on January 8, 2008


“If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent Texas and live in Hell” (Philip Sheridan)

Truer words have never been spoken IMO.
posted by photoslob at 7:11 PM on January 8, 2008


pyramid termite writes "simple enough - plainclothes police - if they're not charged the extra 5 bucks, they raid the place and close it down"

Oh they'll charge it. I was taking about remittance to the state. Seems like there would be lots of opportunity to under report your clientel.
posted by Mitheral at 7:53 PM on January 8, 2008


I was taking about remittance to the state. Seems like there would be lots of opportunity to under report your clientel.

I was wondering about this myself. I'm not all that well-versed in the TABC procedures (state liquor board), but I know they track the strip clubs very closely since those are routinely the most prolific sellers of liquor-by-the-drink, in terms of taxable revenue. My guess is that there is a standard formula that TABC and the state would use, something like $X000 in liquor sales in one day averages to Y number of patrons?

I'd be interested to find out. There are loads of ridiculous laws on the Texas books that just end up fading to obscurity and obsolescence because there is no way to enforce them. This should be one of them.
posted by pineapple at 8:22 PM on January 8, 2008


What gets me is this bit from the first link:

"Another gripe is that the tax implies an unfair link between club patronage and sexual violence, though no evidence to support this has been presented. State representative Ellen Cohen, who sponsored the legislation, argued that connecting the two is fair because both strip clubs and sex crimes objectify women."

So ... it's OK for the state to make money from objectifying women? Is it OK for Texas to be a pimp?
posted by Catch at 9:54 PM on January 8, 2008


At the slowest club on the deadest night thousands of dollars of undeclared income changes hand. It's a cash business with nomadic workers and a clientele that pulls its hat down to cover its eyes. I've never understood why there aren't government tax accountants in there every other night, recording social insurance numbers and counting trips to the VIP, working their way up in the department by putting in those extra hours to insure tax fairness for us all while also satisfying their prurient fascinations. Five dollars at the door is loose change.
posted by TimTypeZed at 11:24 PM on January 8, 2008


It's just Texan prudes shoving their morality down everyone's throats and out their wallets.

Wow, it's like you're a never-ending stream of ignorant, inflammatory shit.
posted by puke & cry at 12:10 AM on January 9, 2008


for myself, i think it's a ridiculous tax - they're just gouging someone because they can - and when the places start closing down because of it, where's the revenue in that?

Because fewer strip clubs would be such a terrible outcome? I'm not filled with sympathy for the strip club owners here. More funding for rape victims is a good idea, and funding it by taxing strip clubs seems an awful lot better than raising income or sales taxes.
posted by Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey at 2:07 AM on January 9, 2008


Get your p0rn on the internet like normal people!
posted by jeffburdges at 3:42 AM on January 9, 2008


Because fewer strip clubs would be such a terrible outcome?

i'm not sure that it should be the government's place to decide that

More funding for rape victims is a good idea, and funding it by taxing strip clubs seems an awful lot better than raising income or sales taxes.

seeing as you don't go to strip clubs, of course - naturally, there may be others who feel they should combat identity fraud and internet stalking by charging a 5 buck tax every time someone logs onto a website to comment on something

same principle, isn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:24 AM on January 9, 2008


i'm not sure that it should be the government's place to decide that

Why not? Who else can?
posted by Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey at 6:29 AM on January 9, 2008


Why not? Who else can?

The market. Less demand, fewer clubs.
posted by inigo2 at 7:09 AM on January 9, 2008


More funding for rape victims is a good idea, and funding it by taxing strip clubs seems an awful lot better than raising income or sales taxes.

What pyramid termite said. There are hundreds of worthy causes out there, and giving cash to sexual assault survivors is not one of the causes that is a crisis in Texas right now. Health care in this state, on the other hand, is currently totally fucked. 24% of the Texas population has no health insurance, the highest of any state. Our health care system is overworked and is on the brink of total collapse. That's a crisis. Especially when we've already got a state program for compensating crime victims, including assistance specifically earmarked for victims of sexual assault, with a budget in the $100 millions.

The idea that "more funding for rape victims is a good idea" is fine and good. And separately, if you want to charge a sin tax on strip clubs, that's fine too.

But if you can't prove causality, then by connecting the two, the Lege is arbitrarily choosing a private sector, and implicitly holding them responsible for a violent and reprehensible kind of crime, because they know that no one (including the business owners themselves) can fight it. That's called a bully pulpit, last I heard.

A further hole in this argument: if sexual assault victims were lacking funding in some way, then, 100% of the strip club door tax should go to rape victims, right? Not just a part? So, why isn't it?

Because the rape victims are simply a politically acceptable cover for fundraising. There's a big dirty secret in Texas, the pink elephant in the room that no one talks about because doing so is political suicide -- but essentially, we don't collect a state income tax, and therefore we never have enough funding for major state programs (you know, the really critical ones, the stuff that private-sector special interest can't cover through charitable fundraising: education, health care)... because we simply can't raise enough funds via the property tax and sales tax. (At least not while also supporting the GOP agenda of lowering property taxes.)

So, strip clubs ≠ rape... but legislators are trying to scrape up cash from everywhere they can, to cover the fact that they've refused to solve our state funding problems. In fact, when the Texas Lege first considered this law in 2004, after Utah enacted a similar tax, the original plan was to put all the money to education funding -- only, even the GOP balked at the correlation, and the legislation died. Why is it that strip club money is too seedy to fund education, but not too seedy for rape victims? That's a pretty nasty argument for anyone to make.

From the ABC "pole tax" article:
Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University, said the Texas tax goes too far.

"It seems clear legislators are targeting strip clubs because they're unpopular," Turley said. "Laws like this would expose any unpopular industry to punitive taxes. It could be abortion clinics."
This is what scares me. The problem is the precedent. Because I live here, and I know that if there's one thing the Texas Legislature excels at, it's running down a slippery slope.

"i'm not sure that it should be the government's place to decide that" "Why not? Who else can?"

Maybe the community? Maybe the free market?

This is the problem I have with today's conservatives. You can either Have Less Government or you can Legislative Everyone's Morality. You simply cannot do both. It's a zero-sum game. Peeping into everyone's bedrooms and tsk-tsking, and keeping the ho-mo-sexshuls from diluting your family values, and monitoring the strip clubs, and giving tax breaks to mega-churches despite their corporate impact on the environment and the community... this all requires more government. Which requires collecting more taxes. Which requires taking more money away from the rich people that elect conservatives... which makes them angry. Does not compute! Does not compute!

(BEIM, I don't mean you -- as you've clearly come down on the side of legislating morality and I haven't seen you also pushing for lower taxes/less government. This is a just general editorializing about the New Republican Dilemma.)

Maybe the GOP needs to get a few hundred thousand copies of Love and Logic, that book that teaches children how to engage the prefrontal cortex and make responsible choices, rather than remaining in the "But I want it ALL! And a pony!" stage of development.
posted by pineapple at 7:14 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


charging a 5 buck tax every time someone logs onto a website to comment on something

5 dollars to comment on a website...why does that sound familiar?

(i know, it's different, i'm just feeling facetious)
posted by naoko at 7:30 AM on January 9, 2008


The market. Less demand, fewer clubs.Maybe the community? Maybe the free market?

Society on its own doesn't seem to be doing a terribly good job of reducing the number of strip clubs. There's no reason to think that people always collectively behave in their own best interests, and no reason to think that the status quo reflects what people collectively want, particularly in an issue specifically involving women, whose voices are often given less weight. In an election year when people are constantly whinging about politicians' supposed inability to 'do the right thing' and 'take unpopular choices', it's a bit odd to abandon all this as soon as doing the right thing means depriving you of teh boobies. I'm not advocating unrestrained paternalism left, right and centre, but I don't agree with the assumption that anything the government does that curtails people's choices must be inherently bad.
posted by Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey at 7:39 AM on January 9, 2008


Society on its own doesn't seem to be doing a terribly good job of reducing the number of strip clubs.

perhaps society doesn't think it's as important as you do

There's no reason to think that people always collectively behave in their own best interests

there's no reason to think that you know what our best interests are or how we should collectively act upon them

I'm not advocating unrestrained paternalism left, right and centre, but I don't agree with the assumption that anything the government does that curtails people's choices must be inherently bad.

the real social evil being encouraged here is the pervasive and pernicious belief that we can have a functioning government and a functioning set of policies by making the "other guy" pay for it instead of raising taxes on ourselves - it happens constantly, whether the "other guy" be strip bar customers, cigarette smokers, beer drinkers, or that constant favorite of the so called conservative republicans, our own debt-burdened grandchildren

that social evil has totally corrupted our government and our politics - the idea that we shouldn't pay for what we want the government to do ourselves

that's a lot worse than having too many strip joints
posted by pyramid termite at 7:55 AM on January 9, 2008


Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey writes "Because fewer strip clubs would be such a terrible outcome? I'm not filled with sympathy for the strip club owners here. More funding for rape victims is a good idea, and funding it by taxing strip clubs seems an awful lot better than raising income or sales taxes."

Sure, sure. This is something we should all get on board with.

Let charge a $5 entrance fee to bookstores to fund reading programs. After all they wouldn't have any customers if no one could read.

And let's charge a $5 entrance fee to any place that sells beer/wine/liquor to fund a program for drunk driving victims (that's like every grocery store in Texas isn't it?).

And let's charge a $5 admission fee to gas stations to fund highways.

How about a $5 fee at any place that sells bottled water. Perfectly good water comes out of taps it's environmentally crazy to buy bottled water.

That entrance fee for patrons of abortion clinics sounds quite reasonable I'm sure to many of Texas voters. Especially if they funnelled the money to abstinence only sex-ed programs.

Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey writes "it's a bit odd to abandon all this as soon as doing the right thing means depriving you of teh boobies."

FYI: never been to a strip club or so much as Vegas floor show and have zero interest in visiting one in the future.
posted by Mitheral at 8:04 AM on January 9, 2008


My gut reaction is to think that this is a stupid, stupid idea. As much as getting money for assault and rape centers is really, really important, the implications of doing it this way strike me as really bad. Relegating the issue of domestic violence/assault/rape to something akin to "those morally devoid people who frequent strip clubs" seems like a dangerous precedent to set. It reeks to me of self-righteous pats on the back - look! we're doing something about rape!

And I don't usually find myself defending businesses, but surely they have a point when they say this is gonna hurt? A lot of strip clubs are small businesses. Just sayin.

And I was a little disappointed by the article linked as the "class-war" aspect of the story. I'd be really interested to learn more about it - is this a regressive tax (like the lottery or gasoline)? what are the demographics of people who visit strip clubs? surely that's an important consideration here.
posted by lunit at 8:31 AM on January 9, 2008


This is to funny to see the manufactured outrage at this.

It's a silly little consumption tax. (And I'm betting one that would have an extremely high

The strip clubs already generally charge a cover (or a minimum). So the clubs can eat the $5 if they want or they can elect to pass it on to the consumer.

And it's just $5.00. That's half a drink at a strip club. Or 1/4 of a lap dance.

If you are the kind of person that's going to a strip club, you are probably already looking at blowing at least $50-100. If you can't afford the $5 to get into a strip club, then you probably were not going to go to one anyhow.

The only real effect I see of this law is that it may lead to the closing of the really seedy strip clubs like the Triple Nickel and the like. The big corporate ones like Baby Dolls won't blink at this.

(pineapple: your rant about "dirty secrets" of Texas politics and the health care system is nice and all, but the issues are not nearly as simplistic as you make them. For instance, much of what you are arguing about is less a function of an income tax and partisan politics then it is of the population growth problem (primarily llegal immigration, but also in areas such as Houston, Katrina influx problem) that has caused ridiculously unsustainable growth levels that are taxing all governmental institutions but primarily healthcare in city centers. But I'm not sure all of that needs to be hashed out in the context of the evaluation of this invidiual taxable event.)
posted by dios at 8:45 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


there's no reason to think that you know what our best interests are or how we should collectively act upon them

Sure, there's plenty of middle ground between the two extremes of paternalism and libertarianism for us both. And I agree that lots of people want to have their cake and eat it, when it comes to taxation and spending.

It's hard to find smoking-gun statistical evidence that closing an individual strip club reduces the number of rapes in the area, but it seems uncontroversial to argue that, overall, strip clubs increase and facilitate the objectification of women, and, overall, the objectification of women is an important component in rape. Taxing a 'social bad' is a good thing, as is the revenue it raises. Mitheral's examples all miss the point, as none of them are 'social bads' in themselves.
posted by Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey at 8:47 AM on January 9, 2008


That second line was supposed to say (And I'm betting one that would have an extremely high approval rate).

Which leads me to mitheral's comment:

Let charge a $5 entrance fee to bookstores to fund reading programs. After all they wouldn't have any customers if no one could read.

And let's charge a $5 entrance fee to any place that sells beer/wine/liquor to fund a program for drunk driving victims (that's like every grocery store in Texas isn't it?).

And let's charge a $5 admission fee to gas stations to fund highways.

How about a $5 fee at any place that sells bottled water. Perfectly good water comes out of taps it's environmentally crazy to buy bottled water.
posted by Mitheral at 10:04 AM on January 9


Ok, let's do that. That is, if it is a policy that people support.

There's absolutely zero public support for a book tax. But there is already a booze tax. And there is already a gasoline tax. The bottled water is a new idea to me, but if there is public support of it, why not?

That's the thing about our form of government. The states are little laboratories of democracy. Why shouldn't the citizens of a state through their elected representatives be able to tax what they want to tax within the limitations of the state and federal constitution? The limitation is the will of the populous. I'm not seeing what the problem is.
posted by dios at 8:52 AM on January 9, 2008


[I've pulled mixed comments from different people for response, the quotes aren't all from one person or comment]

>>"it's a bit odd to abandon all this as soon as doing the right thing means depriving you of teh boobies."

It's a bit odd to assume that MeFites care more about being deprived of boobies than about the sociopolitical ramifications of an arbitrary legislative move that doesn't really create the value its proponents allege.

>>And I was a little disappointed by the article linked as the "class-war" aspect of the story. I'd be really interested to learn more about it - is this a regressive tax (like the lottery or gasoline)? what are the demographics of people who visit strip clubs? surely that's an important consideration here.

Texas conservatives luv luv luv their regressive taxes, though. In a state full of poor people, regressive taxes mean the rich people win. So, that this could be a regressive tax wouldn't be an important consideration to the Legislature at all.

>>But I'm not sure all of that needs to be hashed out in the context of the evaluation of this invidiual taxable event.

It sure doesn't, not for the least reason of which is that I don't agree at all, not even a single iota, with the (ironically, overly simplified) statement "It's the illegals! It's the poor blacks from Katrina!" By your stand, population growth should be good for Texas, since all those people -- illegal or not -- contribute heavily to our sales tax collection. If you really want to get into the "Illegals and Katrina refugees drain state funds and resources" debate, let's do it in an appropriate venue. This thread isn't it.

>>This is to funny to see the manufactured outrage at this.

My "outrage" isn't outrage at all. It's mere observation that the Texas Legislature is playing hypocrite politics as usual, and also me trying to clarify for the non-Texans in the MeFi audience that this actually isn't another morality-police move as it outwardly appears; it's all about the money.

I've said repeatedly in this thread that if you want to tax strip clubs, do it. I don't have any quibble with sin taxes. They're not how I'd make laws, but then again I'm not a legislator, either. And, I happen to agree that patrons of venue's like The Men's Club, The Lodge, etc. can certainly afford it to add $5 to a cover. As you pointed out, it's small joints that will take a big hit.

>>The only real effect I see of this law is that it may lead to the closing of the really seedy strip clubs like the Triple Nickel and the like. The big corporate ones like Baby Dolls won't blink at this.

So, it's okay to punitively tax that business which is "seedier" than another? How is that not a direct attack on small business? Shall we quantify the seediness? Shall we apply that metric to seedy restaurants? Seedy shops? Seedy convenience stores? Seedy appliance repair outfits? Are we a state that is for small business, up to the point where that small business is seedy? If so, then why not shut down all sexually-oriented businesses?

>>it seems uncontroversial to argue that, overall, strip clubs increase and facilitate the objectification of women, and, overall, the objectification of women is an important component in rape.

I disagree with you. I think that this argument is the equivalent of saying, "overall strip clubs increase and facilitate the objectification of women, and objectification of women leads to loose morals and more unmarried pregnancies, and therefore more abortions." Or, "overall, bars increase and facilitate the consumption of alcohol, and since alcohol is a causal factor in the majority of acquaintance rapes, therefore we should shut down bars." Or, "Magazines like Maxim objectify women, so we should refuse to allow that trash to be distributed here." Just because it seems uncontroversial to you doesn't actually make it logically sound.

And, that "the objectification of women" seems to you to be an important component in rape doesn't actually make it so. Nor is "what seems to be" or "what feels like it must be right" or "what makes sense on the surface" the best basis for legislation.

>>Why shouldn't the citizens of a state through their elected representatives be able to tax what they want to tax within the limitations of the state and federal constitution?

On this, you're absolutely right. I can't refute the fact that most of the Texans who care about their representation happen to also be conservatives who are pleased to legislate the morality of other people. But I can protest it, because it makes the thinking, evolved people look like a bunch of hicks.

I have to come back again to the notion of frothing outrage: I don't really care all that much about this personally. I support strippers and their right to strip, I support dudes who want to pay those girls to take their clothes off, and I support the club owner who wants to sell $15 drinks to that dude. I also support the Moms for the Moral Majority groups who want to do stuff like try to block Hooters from building franchises -- way to use the process, folks. And I've even reached a disgruntled peace with the fact that I live in a state that even cares whether Hooters come to town.

But if the Lege wants to pull some hinky tricks to raise cash for the state health crisis, while caricaturing the issues of sexual assault and feminism in order to pre-empt complaints from the pro-business lobby, I'm going to call that like I see it. No outrage necessary.
posted by pineapple at 9:25 AM on January 9, 2008


Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey writes "Mitheral's examples all miss the point, as none of them are 'social bads' in themselves."

Personally I'm a lot more offended by the purchase of bottled water than people looking at other naked people out of the view of the public. Heck I think all beaches should be clothing optional.

dios writes "Why shouldn't the citizens of a state through their elected representatives be able to tax what they want to tax within the limitations of the state and federal constitution? The limitation is the will of the populous. I'm not seeing what the problem is."

Legally I imagine they are in the clear. It's a fairly novel approach but my layman knowledge of the laws down there doesn't bring up anything that would make it illegal. But is it the right thing to do? Even a cursory glance through history will show that just because a majority agrees on a course of action doesn't mean that it is the right thing to do.

This would be a less disturbing IMO if it wasn't so targeted. If they'd went after clubs in general (rifle, golf, dance, drinking, music, etc.) I'd be ok with it. The legislature is slipping one over on the public because few are going to stand up for the strip clubs but it sets a bad precedence for the state to charge an entrance fee in my opinion.
posted by Mitheral at 9:50 AM on January 9, 2008


It sure doesn't, not for the least reason of which is that I don't agree at all, not even a single iota, with the (ironically, overly simplified) statement "It's the illegals! It's the poor blacks from Katrina!" By your stand, population growth should be good for Texas, since all those people -- illegal or not -- contribute heavily to our sales tax collection. If you really want to get into the "Illegals and Katrina refugees drain state funds and resources" debate, let's do it in an appropriate venue. This thread isn't it.

I agree that this isn't it. But this thread isn't really the place for your long rambling political rants either. But they are here nonetheless. Which was kind of my point. You are taking this individual action, and extrapolating some great generalized critique of the entirety of Texas politics and the healthcare system. What I was pointing out to you is that it is not as simplified as you make it. And, if you think the largest problem facing the healthcare system in Texas is not the population explosion, then you need to learn more about what you are railing about (alternatively, you could read the article you linked to in order to make your point about the state of healthcare here--they say the same thing). And the problem of the population explosion is largely tied to immigration (at least half of which is illegal in Texas). Specific to the healthcare industry in urban centers such as Houston, another large problem of population explosion was the result of influx of Katrina imports. Of people who follow this topic, nothing I am saying is controversial or contested, your protestations notwithstanding. You can walk into Parkland in Dallas or Ben Taub in Houston or University Hospital in San Antonio or Thomason in El Paso and the problem is evident. You are wholly confused if you think the healthcare crisis in Texas is not largely caused by the population explosion that is a result of immigration in the state.

But again, this is a debate which is irrelvant to this issue. But then again, so is your entire screed about "Texas conservatives" and "the Lege" and "income taxes" and the like. The question is relativily straight-forward and does not require that argument: is there anything problematic with targeted consumption taxes directed towards disfavored practices. That issue does not require a hijacking of a thread such as you have been.
posted by dios at 10:06 AM on January 9, 2008


But is it the right thing to do? Even a cursory glance through history will show that just because a majority agrees on a course of action doesn't mean that it is the right thing to do.

Well, I'm not sure what you mean by "right," but whatever definition you are using, I'm sure the corollary is also correct that it doesn't mean that it is the wrong thing to do either.

This would be a less disturbing IMO if it wasn't so targeted.

Do you feel the same about gasoline taxes? Cigarette taxes? Alcohol taxes? Vehicle Luxury taxes? What about occupation taxes on doctors and lawyers? What about the fireworks tax? Cement production tax? Sulphur production tax? Controlled substances tax?

Those are all targeted taxes. There is an argument to be made about the efficacy of targeted taxes and the appropriateness of them in general. But we already have a lot of them, and in that context, this doesn't seem so novel or precedential.
posted by dios at 10:17 AM on January 9, 2008


But this thread isn't really the place for your long rambling political rants either. But they are here nonetheless. Which was kind of my point.

Then, common sense would dictate that you flag it and move on. Using a political rant to tell me why you don't think my political rants aren't welcome (in a thread about Texas politics, no less) is a bit silly. If you don't think a comment of mine adds to the thread, say that -- but then don't bring your own partisan screed to the table either. Cake: have it, or eat it? Hmmm, what to do, what to do.
posted by pineapple at 10:36 AM on January 9, 2008


pineapple, nothing I have said in this thread approaches a partisan screed. Perhaps you are bringing baggage to the table and seeing something that is not there, but you are imagining an argument which does not exist. To avoid you hijacking the topic even further, I will part and say that I am done with this.
posted by dios at 12:01 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Speaking as someone who has both worked at (as a bartender and manager) a high end Texas gentleman's club, and who has friends who own and/or work at gentleman's clubs, I can tell you that the whole "oh, you're going to put small businesses out of business" is nothing but crocodile tears.

In the 80's those clubs were charging $20.00 a person to get in. Some of them now have $35.00 cover charges. Cover charge, after you pay your bouncers, is pure profit. Any good club out there can absorb this $5.00 dollar sin tax without blinking. They don't want to, and for good reason...nobody likes to give their money to the tax man, but if the accountancy is handled correctly, this will actually improve the bottom line if they don't raise the cover charge.

Now, could it put the scary "eye patch" bars out of business? Probably not. Most of those places don't' have liquor licenses, they're byob...and byob cabarets don't collect the tax.

I will grant that it's a stupid tax, just like every other sin tax. There's more than 2.00 in taxes on every pack of cigarettes in Texas. There's a ton of taxes on beer and cheap wine...but not on high end liquor, go figure. But stupid sin tax or not, it's not going to put a single club out of business.

That said, on behalf of the girls who dance, if $5.00 is really that important to you, please, oh please, stay home. 'Cause baby, if you're counting pennies, don't sit down at the high stakes tables.
posted by dejah420 at 12:30 PM on January 9, 2008


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