We're guessing Queen Victoria would be very amused at the new "sin taxes" hitting England. She'd probably be miffed she didn't think of them herself.
Along with raising the taxes on tobacco and alcohol, British lawmakers are also claiming that driving oversize gas guzzlers and using too many plastic bags are also "sins." They plan to add a sin tax to such things, as well. (The new "heavy polluter" tax would come on board in 2010.)
The move prompted some classic British humor. "Don't drink or drive" was the headline in one newspaper. But for the most part, the nation has dug in to weather the storm with typical Anglican resolve. In other words, they're keeping a "stiff upper lip" in response to the neo-Victorian push for "sound minds in sound bodies."
Some fear the taxes will lead to the dwindling of the pub scene what with alcohol costing more and tobacco now banned in many public places. But Prime Minister Gordon Brown is not buying into the hand-wringing. If the pub scene ebbs, he seems to be saying, so be it. It wasn't such a wonderful tradition, after all.
The tax on alcohol, of course, is to help curb much of the binge drinking that is in vogue. And the tobacco tax is a no-brainer, given the many medical studies about the havoc cigarettes wreak on the health-care system and on families. But the tax on gas guzzlers is a bit different. The sin such a tax hopes to curb is obviously pride. You can indulge in your notions of superiority, prestige and wealth the new law seems to say but it's going to cost you for using more than your share of petroleum.
It's a time-honored British point of view tough times requiring tough measures and all that. It's also a point of view about automobiles that would have trouble getting any traction in the United States. Still, we can't help fantasizing, wouldn't it be refreshing if somehow a "pride tax" caught on?
Double-decker buses anyone?