The Smugglers of Old New York.

So I hear (as did our own Dan McLaughlin, last week) that New York is the place to go for an exciting and remunerative career in the cigarette-smuggling trade:

Last week, The Mackinac Center for Public Policy released a report chronicling the rate of cigarette smuggling in the United States, revealing what retailers in New York have long known: state-to-state smuggling has become a big problem. This especially true for higher taxed states like New York, which boasts both the highest state excise taxes in the country ($4.35 per pack) and the highest rate of smuggling (with 60.9% of all New York’s cigarettes entering the state illegally).

Do you know what the real problem is, with our modern Left? It’s not their anti-science crazies*, or their general blind spot when it comes to anti-Semitism, or even the way that some of them tend to project the voices in their heads into our mouths. No, the real problem is that most of ’em don’t seem to recognize that history started prior to the mid-Nineties. Because anybody could have told New York what happens when you combine high excise taxes and unsecured borders. Take it away, Rudyard Kipling and Michael Longcor:



Poor Honest Men
(A.D. 1800)

“A Priest in Spite of Himself”
(Rewards and Fairies)

YOUR jar of Virginny
Will cost you a guinea,
Which you reckon too much by five shillings or ten;
But light your churchwarden
And judge it according,
When I’ve told you the troubles of poor honest men.

From the Capes of the Delaware,
As you are well aware,
We sail with tobacco for England—but then,
Our own British cruisers,
They watch us come through, sirs,
And they press half a score of us poor honest men!

Or if by quick sailing
(Thick weather prevailing)
We leave them behind (as we do now and then)
We are sure of a gun from
Each frigate we run from,
Which is often destruction to poor honest men!

Broadsides the Atlantic
We tumble short-handed,
With shot-holes to plug and new canvas to bend;
And off the Azores,
Dutch, Dons and Monsieurs
Are waiting to terrify poor honest men.

Napoleon’s embargo
Is laid on all cargo
Which comfort or aid to King George may intend;
And since roll, twist and leaf,
Of all comforts is chief,
They try for to steal it from poor honest men!

With no heart for fight,
We take refuge in flight,
But fire as we run, our retreat to defend;
Until our stern-chasers
Cut up her fore-braces,
And she flies off the wind from us poor honest men!

‘Twix’ the Forties and Fifties,
South-eastward the drift is,
And so, when we think we are making Land’s End
Alas, it is Ushant
With half the King’s Navy
Blockading French ports against poor honest men!

But they may not quit station
(Which is our salvation)
So swiftly we stand to the Nor’ard again;
And finding the tail of
A homeward-bound convoy,
We slip past the Scillies like poor honest men.

‘Twix’ the Lizard and Dover,
We hand our stuff over,
Though I may not inform how we do it, nor when.
But a light on each quarter,
Low down on the water,
Is well understanded by poor honest men.

Even then we have dangers,
From meddlesome strangers,
Who spy on our business and are not content
To take a smooth answer,
Except with a handspike…
And they say they are murdered by poor honest men!

To be drowned or be shot
Is our natural lot,
Why should we, moreover, be hanged in the end—
After all our great pains
For to dangle in chains
As though we were smugglers, not poor honest men?

Note Kipling’s date, which understates the issue: “1800?” Heck, this has been going on for thousands of years. Because I will tell you a secret: people don’t default to thinking that smuggling is ‘wrong.’ Oh, sure, smuggling things like heroin or cocaine are generally easy to define as ‘bad,’ but mere tax evasion has always been a hard sell. And a wise government will take that into account when setting policy.

Oh, wait, we’re talking about the New York legislature. Never mind.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Anti-vaccination freaks. People terrified of genetically modified foods. Greenie religious fundamentalists with poor math skills – no, wait, that last modifier is depressingly common.

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