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Beer tax hurts, not helps, Oregonians

Readers’ Letters

Common sense would tell you that increasing the price of a six-pack by a few nickels or dimes isn't going to stop a teen already determined to break the law by drinking alcohol. Likewise, a recent column (Beer tax would help defray the cost of abuse, Insight, Nov. 19) failed to make the case for higher beer taxes as a policy tool to reduce teen drinking.

For that matter, neither did it adequately explain how the $103 million that Oregon taxpayers already pay annually for alcohol and drug abuse programs will be put to better use, in addition to the millions more from taxpayers that some claim is needed.

Anyone can see that Oregon's economy is in tough shape, especially beer drinkers. Brewers, beer distributors and retailers all realize this. But it hasn't stopped those who push policy proposals to increase beer excise taxes.

Raising beer taxes also would hurt Oregon's craft brewing industry and its status as one of the nation's top states for growing hops, a key beer ingredient.

Higher beer taxes, which end up hurting small-business owners and farmers, isn't a policy solution that any reasonable person would seriously consider. Plus, taxes threaten to weaken Oregon's beer industry, which provides 13,500 jobs with $620 million in annual payroll.

However, what does work in addressing teen drinking is getting parents, retailers and educators working together, and that's what beer distributors like Maletis Beverage are doing.

Oregon Anheuser-Busch beer distributors last year provided 1,200 free copies of 'Family Talk About Drinking' to parents across the state.

These examples are only a few of the efforts we have which, along with the efforts of others, have reduced teen drunken driving deaths by 62 percent between 1982 and 2000.

The bottom line is that we need to all get past ill-advised plans to impose penalties on everyone. Instead, let's focus on implementing real solutions.

We will meet with any interested citizen or educator who wants to learn more about our educational programs.

Rob Maletis

Maletis Beverage Co.

Northwest Portland

Iraq attack would be

investment in oil supply

For a number of reasons, I deplore the U.S. drive to attack Iraq. However the basic premise of the commentary (An attack on Iraq makes no business sense, Insight, Nov. 22) appears to be seriously flawed.

An attack on Iraq (with the ultimate goal of controlling that nation's tremendous oil reserves) makes total business sense. Such an attack further advances U.S. hegemony and is seen by many to be a route toward complete control of the world's resources.

The world's largest proven oil reserves Ñ after Saudi Arabia Ñ lie ready for U.S. exploitation. That will overflow the bursting coffers of the oil conglomerates. Expenses of a war in Iraq will be borne by 'we the people,' not the profiteers.

From a strictly business perspective, oil must be more valuable than Iraqi blood.

Roland Dion

San Diego