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Sat, Sep. 22nd, 2007, 12:06 pm
Become a felon in Tennessee -- cheap!



Buying 25 cartons of cigarettes in the next state is now a felony. That's right, a lifetime loss of many civil rights. The amount of money involved? 250 packs x 19 cent difference (between Tennessee and Alabama) = $47.50 worth of excise taxes. But that's nothing new to the American law -- missing out of a $5 tax stamp for adding a second grip to a pistol is also a felony. We already discussed felony charges for ownership or sales of sex  toys...

Next time you hear of proposal to deny voting or self-defense rights to felons, consider how close everyone is to becoming one...often without knowing it and almost always without victimizing anyone. Greedy revenuers trying to prohibit interstate commerce or morally offended puritans prying into your bedroom don't count as victims.

(Math fixed)

Sat, Sep. 22nd, 2007 06:11 pm (UTC)

Wanna know what makes it worse?

There are only 10 packs of cigarettes per carton, so it's actually 250 packs x .19 for a total of $47.50 in excise taxes.

Sat, Sep. 22nd, 2007 06:39 pm (UTC)

You left out the bit about police seizure of your car for having greater-than-two cartons of out-of-state contraband cigarettes.

What do you mean conflict of interest? We have to seize and auction these "drug-dealers" assets so we can finance the SWAT team... so we can go after more "drug-dealers" assets.

Sat, Sep. 22nd, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)

You left out the bit about police seizure of your car for having greater-than-two cartons of out-of-state contraband cigarettes.


Sat, Sep. 22nd, 2007 09:12 pm (UTC)

Nevermind, I see it now. Sorry, I'm an idiot, today.

Sat, Sep. 22nd, 2007 09:02 pm (UTC)

any guesses to what new sport the next smuggling item creates?

Sat, Sep. 22nd, 2007 09:22 pm (UTC)

I wonder if they plan to do this to people who don't even live in Tennessee?

"If revenue agents believe that an individual is transporting more than two cartons of cigarettes into Tennessee, the vehicle carrying the cigarettes will be stopped and searched," Farr said. "If more than two cartons are found, the cigarettes will be seized and agents have the discretion to make arrests and seize the vehicle."

If, for instance, I were driving my car, with NM license plates, back to NM from VA, and I stop in Bristol and go to a smoke shop and buy 50 cartons of cigarettes (for whatever reason) and then proceed to drive through Tennessee on my way back to New Mexico, can they pop me for carrying the cigarettes through their state?

Cigarettes without the Tennessee state tax stamp are considered contraband.

Hell, that implies that even having a half-pack in my shirt pocket is some sort of offence, if I bought them somewhere other than TN.

Sun, Sep. 23rd, 2007 12:51 am (UTC)

This sounds like a state attempt to regulate interstate commerce?

Sun, Sep. 23rd, 2007 06:16 pm (UTC)

I was thinking exactly the same thing. This violates the commerce clause restrictions.

Sun, Sep. 23rd, 2007 02:02 am (UTC)

There is something rotten in the US .. how come that a supposedly moral and Christian nation has more people incarcerated than almost any other country
(per capita)?

Sex toys / felony?

Although you don't have a constitutional right to keep arms in most
European countries, I think most of them allow felons to vote
(and in some of them, even prisoners vote).. Only people who can't vote are soldiers..(in my country .. they don't have all civil rights).
I think people convicted of violent crime can't get permits, those guilty of other crimes can own guns...

BTW, is there a trade in illegally produced cigarettes in the US?
In the EU, smugglers move lots of cheap cigarettes from Ukraine to sell in EU proper, due to the 3-4$ pricetag for legal smokes, many people buy them,
especially poor or elderly. If you know where to ask..


Sun, Sep. 23rd, 2007 03:09 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous): Revenue

They're not illegally produced--it's a matter of state tax revenue. Different states charge different taxes on things like cigarettes and alcohol. Tennessee's taxes are 19 cents per pack higher than Alabama's. Consequently, cigarettes are (or may be) cheaper in Alabama than Tennessee. If people decide to go to Alabama to buy smokes, Tennessee loses out on that tax revenue. It's not about illegal production, it's about the State getting its cut of the money.

A huge (scary-huge) amount of American politics and law enforcement is centered on the government getting money, not public safety. In some cases (red light cameras, for example), evidence shows that the government's actions harm the public (by increasing accidents), but the government is more concerned with income than citizens' safety.

Mon, Sep. 24th, 2007 03:42 pm (UTC)

what's worse, tennessee might be just about the worst possible state (http://tinycatpants.wordpress.com/2007/09/22/terry-frank-and-i-agree-i-presume-hell-has-frozen-over/) to be pulling tax-related nonsense in.

this kind of thing isn't new. back before they mostly joined the E.U., the scandinavian countries had different tax rates on all manner of items, and (limited, in theory) tax-free sales for people crossing the borders. borders which were historically among the most open, least controlled in the world. borders close to the people, since these countries aren't very big and generally narrow. folks got to be experts at small-time smuggling, there was basically no stopping it. today those borders are even more open, and while E.U. internal regulations have mostly eliminated the incentives to smuggling they've also created some powerful new ones, and life goes on.

my basic point here is, making this kind of thing a felony is flatly ridiculous and anybody who's ever looked into the matter should damn well know it; soon as you create that sort of incentive to smuggling across borders that open and accessible, it will be as common as dirt. make it a misdemeanor so you can process the people you catch doing it a bit quicker and get on with life. you'll get more revenue that way, too, since you'll have more time to catch smugglers if you don't have to bother with felony-level prosecutions against 'em all.

Mon, Sep. 24th, 2007 04:47 pm (UTC)

This sounds much more like a good reason not to put people in jail for a year or more over 47 bucks worth of cigarettes or a dildo than a good reason to support felony voting or gun ownership, Mr. Volk.

Mon, Sep. 24th, 2007 06:07 pm (UTC)

y'know, felony voting might be one way to keep people from getting thrown in jail for a year over $47 in cigarette taxes. seeing as how there might be a voting block of felons opposed to the particular stupid law that made them felons for a victimless crime to begin with.

Mon, Sep. 24th, 2007 08:44 pm (UTC)

I'd be willing to wager that all the 'felons' this law will ever cover in its entire existence will make up about a piss in the ocean's portion of the voting public. Moreover, there are many things that the average person would agree justify stripping someone of their ability to vote and ability to own firearms.

I dare say it's easier to talk people into voting against a law that throws people into jail for a year over 47 bucks worth of cigarette taxes than it is to talk them into letting felons vote.

Tue, Sep. 25th, 2007 01:51 am (UTC)

To add insult to injury, the funds are going to be used thus:

$195 million for indoctrination.
$21 million for agricultural welfare.
$12 million for socialized medicine.

Tue, Sep. 25th, 2007 07:36 am (UTC)


Now... you want us to believe you have state-sponsored indoctrination in the US?

(something other than the education system, which by all accounts can't even teach everyone to read and understand fractions, and which can hardly indoctrinate anyone..)


Indoctrination never worked. Ask Oleg's father.. or almost anyone
who attended a university in the Eastern Bloc. Everyone passed the exam from Marxism-Leninism, and no one believed it ..


Tue, Sep. 25th, 2007 04:41 pm (UTC)

Just because the indoctrination doesn't work, or works poorly, doesn't mean they can't spend a ton of money on it or that it's intent is any less vile.