Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



Taxing to coerce people to behave differently is a bad idea

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

by STEVE STANEK

So crime fighting has come to this: taxing bullets.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle proposes taxes on guns and bullets to fight crime, a higher tax on cigarettes to reduce smoking, and a tax on major purchases that local residents and businesses make outside the county to keep those purchases inside the county.

Wow, and civics teachers tell students that taxes are collected to fund government. Apparently they need to revise their lessons. As leader of the second-largest county government in the nation, Preckwinkle has made it clear she believes taxes are also collected to coerce people to behave as she prefers.

“I make no apology for this,” 
Preckwinkle told the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board. “As [comedian] Chris Rock would say, if it costs a million dollars to society for every gunshot wound, we ought to charge a tax of a million dollars per bullet.”

Well, if each bullet caused a gunshot wound, that might almost make sense. As it stands, it’s a funny thing for a comedian to say, and scary for a politician to quote it.

Likewise for the cigarette tax: “[T]he higher we increase our cigarette prices, the more we discourage particularly young people from smoking and save [ourselves] the cost of treating people who are addicted to tobacco and nicotine for the rest of their lives.”

I live in McHenry County. Within 5 miles of my house are five retail stores that sell guns, ammo or both. There also are two public shooting ranges, with another public shooting range recently approved by my local McHenry City Council, and a private shooting range nearly ready to open less than 2 miles from my house. We go years at a time with no firearms-related murders – without imposing special taxes on guns or bullets.

Many suburban and rural areas have gun owners, gun stores, and shooting ranges galore and almost no firearms-related violence.

In Cook County, violent drug gangs import illegal narcotics from outside the nation and sell them by the ton. Gangs with this ability certainly have no trouble getting firearms and ammunition outside legal channels. A tax won’t stop criminals who are undeterred by threats of arrest, imprisonment, violence and death.

In 2006, Chicago raised its cigarette tax, and this year it estimates $18.7 million in cigarette tax revenue compared with $32.9 million before the tax hike. More smokers are buying their cigarettes on the black market or outside the county. A higher county tax would drive more to the black market or neighboring counties or states. And if a higher tax actually stopped people from smoking, the county would have to replace the lost cigarette tax revenue. The cigarette tax is causing revenue losses as it is.

Preckwinkle suggests cigarette taxes will prevent young people from taking up smoking, even though it’s already illegal for young people to smoke, and threats of arrest and imprisonment don’t stop them from doing drugs. Some people do things they know are harmful, dangerous, and even deadly, despite taxes and harsh punishments imposed by government.

Cook County could lure back shoppers who make major purchases in neighboring counties by continuing to lower the sales tax and other local taxes. That would expand the tax base and boost local businesses.

Neighboring counties do well with lower taxes and spending. Cook County government lacks only the will to do the same. Imposing coercive and futile taxes won’t solve that problem.



Recent Headlines

Chicago health system to add 240+ jobs
Monday, October 15, 2018
Becker's Hospital Review

Village of Northbrook Opts Back In to the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance
Monday, October 15, 2018
National Law Review

Fired doctor sues county, loses whistleblower claim
Friday, October 12, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County health system to add jobs
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

No layoffs or tax hike in mayoral hopeful Preckwinkle’s proposed county budget
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

'Inclusionary' housing ordinance rewrite advances
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Evanston Now

Faced with tight budgets, more Illinois counties merge clerk, recorder offices
Monday, October 08, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Class action: Hundreds of Cook Sheriff officer suspensions invalid, because State's Attorney not involved
Friday, October 05, 2018
Cook County Record

One Cook County judge bucks chief judge’s order against unaffordably high bail
Monday, October 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Game of thrones? Watchdog sees ‘scheme to defraud’ in Pritzker toilet tax break
Monday, October 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

County Board approves $31M election equipment contract despite lawsuit; $11M to settle 2 malpractice lawsuits
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County approves new election equipment contract, despite rival firm’s lawsuit
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Top prosecutor Kim Foxx apologizes as 18 convictions linked to corrupt cop vacated
Monday, September 24, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preteens out of detention before trial under new ordinance
Friday, September 14, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Board bars detention of youth under 13 years old
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Injustice Watch

Preteens accused of crimes won't be locked up at Cook County juvenile center
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Slowik: Cook County offers residents last chance to comment on strategic plan
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Daily Southtown

Settlement over Cook County's 2007 decision to cut inmates' dental care will cost nearly $5.3 million
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Anti-patronage Shakman pact requiring federal oversight of Cook County hiring, firing to end
Friday, August 31, 2018
Chicago Tribune

1st District upholds merit board in firing of deputy
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP