To tackle America’s obesity crisis, some elected officials taxed sodas and limited the size of soft drinks. Result: people just ordered two sodas. And the nation’s waistline continues to expand.
Same with cigarette taxes. Rather than reducing smoking, levies resulted in cigs being smuggled into high-tax states. One study estimates that half of all cigarettes sold in New York, which has the highest cigarette taxes in the country, come from other states. Lower smoking levels are due to anti-smoking campaigns — not higher taxes.
The lesson: you cannot tax your way out of a problem, be it economic or social.
So why would a state representative, and a Republican no less, think it a good idea to impose a ten percent tax on violent video games?
But State Rep. Chris Quinn of Pennsylvania did just that.
Ostensibly, revenue raised from the bill would go toward security measures in schools. But this is much more about placing blame for the rash of school shootings than generating revenue.
“One factor that may be contributing to the rise in, and intensity of, school violence is the material kids see, and act out, in video games,” he stated.
Ok, so which is it? Are we taxing to fund school security or to “prevent” shootings?
Either way, Quinn’s bill is a nonstarter. Not only would the tax be a logistical nightmare to enforce, since many games are bought online and downloaded, it won’t, in any capacity, prevent people from buying video games. Let’s not forget that Americans’ consumerism is at an all-time high. Does Quinn really think that the same people ordering $7 lattes won’t ante up the additional tax money for the latest game?
Therefore, since there will be no reduction in video game use, what’s the point, except to single out an industry in the blame game?
If we follow the tax to its “logical” conclusion, what happens when there is another school shooting? Do we up the tax to twenty percent? Is it a sliding scale depending on how many video games the shooter played? And what if the killer wasn’t a gamer at all? Taxes will never solve the tragedy of school violence, and it’s preposterous to think otherwise.
There is absolutely no need to “find” additional revenue to fund school security, since that funding should be at the very top of the list. If the legislature chooses not to do so, shame on them.
The more important point is that we are passing the buck on accountability and searching for feel-good remedies to preventing school violence. Does anyone truly believe that taxing video games will address why our children are turning to violence, from suicide to shootings? And even if security measures are implemented, they would be reactive, doing nothing to prevent the attack from occurring in the first place.
Obviously, there is no one answer. Our cultural degradation and resultant killings are borne from many interwoven reasons, and none are trivial, since their cumulative effect has produced the most un-empathetic generation in history.
Too many adults want children, but don’t want to be “parents.” So instead of mandating technology-free family time and instilling household discipline (including restrictions on video games), all too often parents try to be their kids’ best friend. What children need are boundaries for a structured life, but that is a rapidly diminishing parental trait.
You can’t legislate good parenting, and until parents wake up, watch for successive generations to become even more unempathetic and dysfunctional.
More than anything, the reason for this unprecedented violence is because children have been coddled.
Parents, teachers, administrators and coaches hover over our children, attempting to sanitize adversity and create a “risk-free” life. They organize “playdates,” choose teams during recess, ban tag, and stop keeping score. Everyone gets a trophy, schools allow students to retake tests until they get the grade they want, and parents sit in on employment interviews.
But at some point, the real world catches up, and those children, and the adults they become, eventually step outside that all-protective bubble. The result is an entire generation unable to process things that don’t go their way. They haven’t learned how to pull themselves up after they fall, because we’ve never let them fail.
For some, any rejection leads to violence. Someone doesn’t like them, or they get fired or disciplined, and it’s rampage time, even when that rampage is self-directed.
Just a generation ago, virtually no shootings occurred. Yet shoot-em-up video games existed back then. Unlike now, children were outside morning, noon, and night, largely unsupervised, and played cops-and-robbers and army, often with toy guns. It’s no coincidence that when such toys and games became banned as Public Enemy Number One, shootings skyrocketed.
Guns have remained the same. It is our culture that has changed.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.
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