John Hancock is perhaps best known for his bold flourish of a signature on our Declaration of Independence. But not all of his bravery was applied toward objectively noble ends. In addition to his general refusal to pay taxes, Hancock smuggled cheap sugar and 1.5 million gallons of molasses per year from the French West Indies to his home in the North American colonies – costing the British empire more than 36,000 pounds annually.
The goods were legal, so Hancock is often fondly remembered for his fearlessness in providing these commodities at a time when a brutal monarch’s taxes rendered them so expensive. Today, cash-strapped Michigan provides job security for a new generation of smugglers by taxing the butt off cigarettes and tobacco products. But we’re not learning from history, here. What were the implications of Hancock’s audacity? His actions strengthened the nation which later took premeditated action against a country they didn’t like. What are the implications for today’s John Hancock? Who among the smugglers roaming the streets today is the strengthening another system – who will play cat-and-mouse here in order to strengthen a nation preparing to move against us?
This isn’t paranoia – individuals from groups with known connections to Hamas and Hezbollah have figured out that by purchasing cigarettes in low-tax states and traveling to sell them in high-tax states like Michigan, the profits can add up to more than $10,000 per trip. Right now, cigarettes filled with sawdust and other cheap fillers are being rolled on ships in Chinese harbors and packaged neatly into counterfeit wrappers that even Marlboro reps cannot distinguish from their own. These will probably be sold on the street corner in Dearborn, not far from where a van-load of illicit smokes from North Carolina is being deposited at a convenience store with whom the crook has a friendly contact. A recent bust of two smugglers found they’d cashed in the profits for such items as GPS, blasting equipment, night vision goggles, stun guns, mine and metal detectors, radars, laptops, and, most frightening, advanced aircraft analysis and design software. The destination of this gear? You guessed it – the Hezbollah terrorist organization from Lebanon which, in conjuction with Al-Qaeda, has declared jihad (“holy war”) against America.
In addition to encouraging tax evasion by its own citizens, the State of Michigan is funding terrorism by imposing these sky-high cigarette taxes. Look into this in further detail with articles posted on the MCPP website here, here, and here.
Kahryn Rombach – MCPP Summer Intern 2008