It’s appropriate that Raise Up Massachusetts, the coalition of politically liberal groups hoping to bring a so-called millionaire’s tax to our state, can be referred to with the acronym RUM.
The Caribbean pirates of yesteryear were noted for drinking rum, and while their methods of enriching themselves were violent, imposing a surtax upon the very successful – who already pay most of the state’s taxes – is a modern form of piracy.
Rum was very popular among the pirates. It’s readily produced from sugarcane or molasses, is easy to store, and took the edge off after a hard day of pillaging. It was a medium of exchange in the famous triangular trade: slaves from Africa to the Americas, raw materials from the Americas to England, and textiles and rum from England back to Africa – the better to round up more natives for the slave trade.
Reay Tannahill estimates in “Food in History” that in pre-Revolutionary days Americans drank an average of three imperial gallons of rum each year, for every man, woman and child. An imperial gallon is 20 percent larger than a U.S. liquid gallon, so any way you cut it – and perhaps they didn’t cut it at all – that’s a lot of drinking.
And a lot of drinking is what I may be doing if this tax wins approval.
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