I am a Constitutionist or minarchist. We need a limited govt as described by the Constitution. It needs some money to get the job done.
As to sin taxes vs tariffs:
(1) you define sinful substances as alcohol, tobacco and porn. OK....problem is the defintion of sin will change. Are you a religious person? In a few years maybe churches become non gratia. Like your SUV or pickup? Lot of people don't. Can't forget firearms and ammo....can't ban them due to that pesky 2nd but they can sure tax them into oblivion.
Further, taxing only a portion of the population for govt services all will benefit from is immoral. That is cost shifting and is no different from the welfare costs the productive currently bear to support the non producers.
(2) yes tariffs are a tax. It is a cost which will be added to the price of that particular item and is therefore a user tax. That makes it fair (fair based on the assumption that some minimal level of govt is required).
I'll hit on something that I should have hit on in the previous post - I do not advocate "sin taxes". It just happens that advocates of sin taxes favor taxing certain items and I think that those choices of items make sense. But, I do not base my opinion of what items should be taxed upon some religious or other busy-body/do-gooder type of viewpoint. I favor a tax system in which you can choose to not pay, or to pay much less, without significantly altering your lifestyle. Alcohol, tobacco, etc are abundantly produced and consumed and make for a reliable source of revenue, but if people choose to stop purchasing them, to avoid taxation, then those people's lives will not significantly change. It makes more sense than taxing baby formula or sugar and it makes more sense than charging tariffs on steel and oil. I think that to tax the most unnecessary of items is most in line with promoting the general welfare.
Also, I think that tariffs are the worst type of taxation, because of their unintended consequences: retaliatory tariffs and increased lobbying by American businesses who want tariffs on their foreign competitors, to compensate for their substandard performance.
Tariffs cannot be ruled out, because they may be necessary, but I do not think that they should be the first or only option. If we do need to impose tariffs for additional revenue, then the careful selection of which products to impose tariffs on should be based upon the following criteria:
1) the importance of the product to the average American's lifestyle (the lower, the better)
2) the cost of collecting the tax versus the revenue collected (most efficient)
3) the effects upon the overall economy (least negatively)
4) the degree to which the tariff impacts upon the prices of similar products in the US (less impact, the better)
Those criteria seem to be most in line with promoting the general welfare, in my opinion.
The most ideal items to impose tariffs on would be on those items that are distinctive by virtue of only being made in foreign countries, such as Persian rugs, French Champagne, collectible items from Saddam's Palaces, etc.
"Further, taxing only a portion of the population for govt services all will benefit from is immoral. That is cost shifting and is no different from the welfare costs the productive currently bear to support the non producers."
How do we avoid this? There will always be the "buy American" crowd and there will always be a lower class. Tariffs will not result in those groups paying taxes.
"(2) yes tariffs are a tax. It is a cost which will be added to the price of that particular item and is therefore a user tax. That makes it fair (fair based on the assumption that some minimal level of govt is required)."
Fair does not equal best, because there are many methods of fair taxation. I think that my proposal is fair, because it is voluntary even within the context of a normal life, and it is better than imposing tariffs.
In regards to user taxes, I think that the best form of charging users is to have a user fee. For example, if you copyright an invention, then you pay the associated administrative fees; if you are in immigrant applying for a Visa or citizenship, then you pay the associated administrative fees; etc.