Expect more of the same
An announcement and an observation. First the announcement: I’ve added a new blog to the blogroll in the Smokers And Drinkers section. Frank Davis is, in his own words, banging on about the smoking ban, and I’ve been reading his stuff over the last couple of weeks since our friendly neighbourhood blogger impersonator used his ID in the comments here. I’m sure his intention wasn’t to increase Frank Davis’ readership but that’s what’s happened, and it hasn’t taken me long to decide to add it to the blogroll.
And on the topic that Frank Davis favours, that observation I mentioned. It’s not the first time I’ve said so but there’s plenty of evidence that the creeping intolerance of a legal product that a significant minority still want to use leads to undesirable side effects. Tax a desired product to the point of unaffordability – or worse, ban it altogether – in the hope that people will stop using it and all you really do is create a strong incentive for the black market to step in, often with a product that’s inferior in some way. We’ve seen it with the American’s unsuccessful experiment with Prohibition, with the disastrous decades long policy of drug prohibition, and we’re seeing it with tobacco.
A former tax office investigator has been jailed for corruptly taking bribes from illegal tobacco producers.
A County Court judge said today that Philip James Roper, 52, had been motivated by greed and had tarnished the reputation of other investigators in carrying out important duties.
Roper, who served for nine years as a federal policeman before joining the Australian Tax Office, was found guilty by a jury of dishonestly asking for a benefit, dishonestly receiving a benefit and theft.
He also pleaded guilty to dishonestly receiving a benefit and abuse of public office.
In sentencing this morning, Judge Joe Gullaci said Roper had come into contact with Jimmy Wang, and a middle man, who were involved in the illegal tobacco, or chop-chop, industry.
The jury decided that Roper’s relationship with both men was corrupt.
The offences occurred between June 2001 and the middle of 2004 by Roper asking Wang for the names and addresses of other chop-chop sellers. Roper told Wang, who he met at the Gotham City brothel, he would look after him.
Judge Gullaci said that Wang had believed that the arrangement was beneficial because it would remove competitors.
The information Wang provided also allowed Roper to steal tobacco leaf and cutting machines, which were sold and the profits taken by Roper.
Roper also stole five 100 kilogram bales of tobacco leaf from a Dandenong property. These were sold and he shared in the profits.
He also “parked” a prosecution of a woman who had sold chop-chop at the Caribbean Garden Markets by telling his colleagues that her address could not be determined.
Note that the offences took place before the illiberal and anti-property rights smoking bans, before the point of sale display bans and before you had to spend $16 or so for a single packet of cigarettes. Does anyone believe that those things have hurt the chop-chop industry or made them less able or inclined to find corrupt officials to bribe? Does anyone think that at least one of those things hasn’t helped the chop-chop industry? And can anyone seriously believe that the chop-chop industry will either not care about the pending mandatory plain packaging or will welcome anything that harms their principle competition, the legal and regulated tobacco industry?
I’d give you a pound to a pinch of shit that there is probably Roper or two meeting more Wangs in various private rooms right now, and there’ll be even more in the future. If you want that future then support your local illegal tobacco industry and your local corrupt public servants by supporting more anti-tobacco legislation. You know it makes no sense.