A Sin Tax on Video Games

| Reason.com offers a nationwide roundup on (mostly stillborn) efforts at the state level to levy a sin tax on video games. Some proposals aim to tax only violent games (who knows it if would affect the forthcoming adaptation of Dante’s Inferno, in which sinners are the exclusive targets of horrific violence). Seriously, though, one can see the populist appeal of Louisiana’s “No Child Left Indoors” proposal, which would impose a 1 percent tax on video game equipment and televisions to fund outdoor recreation facilities. [%comments]

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  1. Alex says:

    Only if we tax bad music. And gossip blogs. And reality television. And anything else deemed harmful to society. Who decides what’s harmful? Our objective politicians. There’s a clear first-amendment case against this. If politicians can single out what they dislike for extra taxes they can shut production down. Slippery slope from taxing a game to charging a extra few dollars to buy a koran.

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  2. Fred T. says:

    Will they tax violent movies as well? How about cartoons featuring the Road Runner obliterating Wile E. Coyote countless times?

    One of these days our lawmakers might wake up and realize that the overload of violence is available to our children long before they ever pick up a video game controller.

    Violent video games are just the scape goat so they can look like they’re doing something about something.

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  3. Tim says:

    For a sin tax to be justified, there needs to be a clear link between the action and the detrimental effects on society (not just the individual). For smoking these links have already been established. For things like drinking and gambling, I haven’t seen the data but I believe it probably exists. But for violent TV and video games? I think not. “Conventional wisdom” is trying to dictate policy here, and it’s wrong.

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  4. Cesar says:

    so… are they taxing r-rated movies and explicit music as well?
    or just violent video games?

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  5. Sally LeRoy says:

    Bleh, video games have positive health effects and should be subsidized. http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2009/03/action-video-games-improve-eyesight.ars

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  6. teej says:

    How about a $1 tax every time somebody asks “Won’t somebody think of the children?”

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  7. Dave says:

    Honestly, while I haven’t read the details, the No Child Left Indoors seems like a good idea to me. It’s way too easy for kids to spend all their free time in front of a TV, and promoting a more active lifestyle is worth my extra 1%.

    For the record, this is coming from a 27 year old complete gamer geek. I’ve had 12 gaming consoles over the years, played competitively in FPS leagues, built an arcade cabinet, and dabbled in writing my own games (I’m a software engineer by trade).

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  8. DNS says:

    Doesn’t our government have an economy to save? Is trying to regulate a form of entertainment less violent than what any kid can watch on television really a productive use of time?

    If they really cared about the issue, instead of just pandering to it because it’s the fear-du-jour, we would see an increase in support for organized sports or other outdoor activities.

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