Opinion

Porn tax proposal is pure political fluff | Mirror editorial

The Family Policy Institute of Washington combines a moral crusade with an idea to add money to the state's coffers: A pornography tax.

The institute, fueled by religious tradition, fed House Bill 2103 to State Rep. Mark Miloscia of Federal Way. The bill seeks an 18.5 percent tax increase on adult entertainment materials and services such as magazines, videos and strip clubs. The extra money would benefit the state's General Assistance Unemployable fund, which faces a massive multimillion-dollar budget cut.

The bill is pie-in-the-sky thinking.

First Amendment arguments aside, such a tax opens the door to lawsuits that negate any monetary gains. Miloscia said he wouldn't mourn the loss of any adult-related business that goes down because of the bill. In the state's present financial situation, promoting a bill that may kill businesses is not ideal.

Confident of public support, Miloscia said this bill deserves discussion as lawmakers search for ways to bring in money. However, through Miloscia, the Family Policy Institute found a lawmaker willing to spread its agenda and stoke the culture war.

The institute's executive director said pornography promotes destructive behavior that ruins marriages and families. No one can argue the devastation of divorce, but it is inaccurate to label pornography as the catalyst for society's ills. If porn contributes to a couple's divorce, then that marriage has bigger problems to address.

Furthermore, the primary oasis for free porn nowadays is the Internet. Even if the bill passes, it will not stop hardcore adult entertainment connoisseurs from blowing their cash on a copy of "The Erotic Adventures of Hercules" or Playboy magazine. If it fails, the bill will become a political weapon for conservatives, ready to shoot any lawmaker who opposed its passage.

Washington state's budget needs restructuring and cuts that boost businesses, not another tax.

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