Davidge: No new alcohol tax until funds truly dedicated
By Ric Davidge |
Since 1791, we have been ‘sold’ the same story and in every case, it has been a false promise. No, I’m not calling for a new rebellion, only that we think seriously about root causes and target any new alcohol tax revenue, as a function of law, to them.
Politicos in Anchorage have stood up and claimed that the reason they need to further tax alcoholic consumption is they need the funds to deal with “the homeless”; that alcohol is the cause of homelessness.
Simply not true. Where do the overwhelming majority of alcoholics live? At home. If alcohol is the cause of homelessness – how can this be? Because alcohol is not “the cause” of homelessness. Yes, it can be a contributor, but it is more a symptom, and certainly not a “root cause.”
But my focus here is to argue that what we need is not a new tax on alcohol consumption, we need a new approach to honestly target the root causes of homelessness.
I would support a new tax if the funds were dedicated/designated as a function of the law for this purpose. This ordinance does not accomplish this. “May” is not “Shall” and there is really no clarity on the allocation of these new revenues to honestly address root causes.
Since 1965, American communities have built an industrial complex around the plight of homelessness. And yet the problem continues to grow. How many billions of public and private dollars have been applied to this public problem? And what have we gotten in return? More homeless.
I suggest that before we apply a new tax on the people of Anchorage, or even ask for one, we rethink about what we are doing. What we (more than 40 legal entities and about 11 government agencies) have been doing for decades is NOT solving the problem, we have been feeding the problem. We can build detox centers, free or low-income housing until we run out of space – and we will not have addressed the root causes of homelessness.
This is not a problem limited to Anchorage, it is not a problem limited to Alaska although some of the root causes are. This is a national problem that requires serious work outside of the cage we have been functioning in since 1965.
I call on each of the candidates for the Anchorage Assembly to focus on this challenge and to please read and learn. This really isn’t galactic science, it’s well known and understood human and community behavior. It will take time, but we know what to do – its just not politically comfortable.
Ric Davidge is founding chairman of VetVillageAK.