Philadelphia food police eye soda

I just caught Philadelphia’s Mayor Nutter on CNN talking about his city’s proposed tax on soda. In the last few years I’ve often heard about proposed “fat taxes” on sodas, snack foods, and other items deemed unhealthy for Americans.

Until now, I sort of shrugged off the whole idea. Yes, I’m still furious that laws about cooking with animal fats ruined McDonald’s french fries, but a couple of extra cents for a a bottle of soda wasn’t going to bother me, except in principle. However, as the Philadelphia story was running, I noticed the info at the bottom of the screen: the proposed tax is 2¢ per ounce. Per ounce! I checked one of the 2-liter bottles I had in the kitchen: 67.6 ounces. That’s a tax of $1.35 per bottle!

Damn! That would be more than $5 a week for me! Just in soda taxes. And I’m not even a soda sinner. I only buy the diet stuff.

Where does the government get off telling us what we can and can’t eat, anyway? Keeping us safe from contaminated food, mislabeled food, meat from diseased animals, etc. Fine; that’s their job. Requiring detailed, accurate nutrition information on food labels. Great idea; I appreciate it. But telling us what we can and can’t eat, and then enforcing it with laws limiting or penalizing our choices? Absolutely not. We never voted to establish a food police department.

And don’t try to justify such a tax by telling me fat people and their health problems are costing us all a lot of money in health care. Penalizing my food choices because someone else has a weight problem is wrong. What I eat is none of your damn business. My doctor’s, maybe. But definitely not yours.

So there. End of rant.

5 comments

  1. I totally agree, and we have the same thing in the UK with alcohol. Penalizing my drink choices because someone else has a drink problem is wrong!

    Also, where do they draw the line on this kind taxation?
    ________________
    Yeah, if this is successfully, I can see it being gradually extended to more and more “unhealthy” foods.

  2. Well, they’re not telling you that you can’t eat or drink something, they’re just making it more expensive, right? I actually don’t have too much of a problem with this, except I think the tax is too high. It should start much lower than this. And the diet drinks should be exempt – sort of defeats the “excused purpose” otherwise.

    The health cost of obesity and diabetes gets spread around, so it makes sense from that perspective that the government would try to at least nudge things in the right direction. Although, really, this is likely more of an excuse to establish a new tax so that they’ll be able to have money for other purposes. Can they guarantee where the money from this tax will be used? Will it be used to help people with diabetes and kidney disease caused by overconsumption of fats and carbs? Probably not.
    __________
    Yes, the money will just go into the city coffers and get spent on whatever. The tax is high because they are trying to make unhealthy behavior/consumption prohibitively expensive. Discouraging such behavior is the job of parents, educators, and the individual, not the government.

    I’ve seen fat taxes compared to tobacco taxes and the assault on smokers. The difference being we have to eat. The minute you start taxing specific foods, you start down a slippery slope. Who knows, the food police might eventually decide beef is too unhealthy and tax it out of existence. Who knows where it will end? And who decides?

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