pandora: I’m perfectly okay with taxing sodas and juice drinks. Mainly because they’re total crap, and one of the main reasons our country’s children are overweight. They are also dirt cheap.
Assumptions here: (1) Because "I" am perfectly okay with a new tax it should be imposed on everybody; (2) it is the government's responsibility to keep children from being obese; (3) the cheapness of the product to be taxed justifies charging people more for it.
John Manifold: Soda fattens your kids [and you and your husband], shortens their lives, costs more than water [and tastes worse]. Soda is a luxury item that is bad for you. It’s a liquid cigarette....
BTW, don’t you love how insecure males toss the term “nanny state” at random? They did it for seat belts, indoor cigs, warning labels, occupational safety, too.
Assumptions here: (1) luxury items are universally acceptable to tax; (2) I get to define what is a luxury item (used to be yachts; now it is $1.35 two-liter soda bottles; (3) anybody who thinks differently than me is insecure...
Unstable Isotope: Most people don’t have a problem with sin taxes. I find Republican rhetoric on obesity & health very strange. They complain about paying for health care for people’s “choices” but are against doing anything to influence people’s choices for the better. I guess they want to go with their tactic of shaming.... I’m OK with taxing – I like libraries, roads, public parks, police departments, fire departments…
Assumptions here: (1) consuming a potentially fattening product constitutes a sin and therefore should be taxable: (2) the word influence has now become a synonym for taxation; (3) government is the appropriate decider of what is better or worse for all individuals and should use the coercive power of taxation to enforce its standards on personal choices
Scott P.: I have no problem with taxing, either, if it raises money for useful ends in a fair manner. Even better if it encourages good, healthy behavior and helps to lower other related costs. The only relevant question here is whether a soda tax will actually accomplish this....
The talk is about placing a small tax, not outlawing them.... You can still drink all you want. And the point is not so much about stopping you from doing something that’s bad for you. The point is about believing that society has a responsibility to try to prevent people from doing things that are bad for others. The downside to excess sugar consumption is not that you get fat — I don’t give a damn how fat and disgusting you get. The downside is that being obese makes you much more likely to develop major (read: expensive) health issues that I and everyone else will have to pay for.
Assumptions here: (1) a small tax should not be a source for argument; (2) government (which is a synonym for society here) is supposed to stop people from doing anything that might be bad for others, no matter how indirect that connection might be; (3) regressive taxes that target poor people [who buy a disproportionate amount of soda] are fair; (4) government should be responsible for paying for the health care of people who make poor lifestyle choices
cassandra: We’re currently subsidizing this behavior now. We control sugar prices and we subsidize corn which is used to make high fructose corn syrup. I see that as government encouraging the wrong behavior. Consumers aren’t stupid – they definitely know they get more bang for their bucks with high calorie food, and fruits and vegetables are more expensive. Plus, we add lots of fats and things to make junk taste good – the food industry is way out in front in the science.
Remember though, I think humans are short term thinkers rather than long term thinkers. It’s not that people don’t recognize that junk food makes them fat, it’s just that they have to make decisions in the now and junk food is cheaper. If we want to encourage people to eat more healthy we need a way to make healthy eating more cost effective and not so much like swimming upstream....
Soda and juice drinks are luxury items — you don’t pay taxes on what you don’t consume in this case, so what you pay for is still under your control.
But cigarettes are luxury items too — and the lesson from taxing them is one of diminishing returns. As cigs got more expensive, people started quitting meaning that tax revenues started not meeting expectations. I don’t think it will be the end of the world to tax sugared sodas and juice drinks, but counting on these taxes as a persistent source of revenue to pay for health care seems short-sighted.
Assumptions here: (1) encourage is a new synonym for taxation; (2) all luxury items [and the government will define what is a luxury] are fair game to tax; (3) it is clearly OK to tax in order to coerce people into changing behaviors rather than to raise revenue
a. price: I dont mind these types of taxes, and long as there is a plan for the revenues. I, for example, with my just scrappin’ by lifestyle wouldn’t mind a 2 dollar a gallon gas tax… $2 extra per gallon whatever the regular price is, as long as all that money went to developing alternative energy sources. First of all, it would raise a ton of money because people need gas, but it would cause the market to demand private companies also use their 11 billion quarterly profits to fix the oil dependency.
By taxing things like sodas, and sugary juices we have the opportunity to use that money to…. help pay for health care maybe? People who buy soda all the time will be buying into to their long term diabeties treatment.
There is nothing wrong with a vice tax. We are allowed to do things that are bad for us.. sugar, smoking, alcohol… if in Vegas.. other things etc. But, if they are going to negatively effect our health, and that will later have to be paid for, why not start building that coffer now?
Assumptions here: (1) Any tax I personally favor is good for the country as long as the money is used for causes I support; (2) the government has the direct ability to make the market perform specific actions through taxation; (3) we do not have a right to our "vices," they are only allowed to us by a benevolent government; (4) but government should tax us to protect us from the negative consequences of our own actions
Thus the three most prevalent liberal/progressive assumptions about the soda tax and the State in general:
1. The government has the responsibility to save us from ourselves, down to the choices we make in the foods and beverages we purchase to put on our tables, either because (a) we are too stupid to choose for ourselves, or (b) any action we ever take might conceivably indirectly raise a cost to somebody else years from now, which effectively justifies anything the government ever chooses to do.
2. Words can be redefined to suit today's political needs. I'm talking basic nouns and verbs here. Taxes are encouragement or influence; there is no coercion involved because you can just decide to give up whatever we are trying to tax. Anything the State does not approve of, in terms of personal conduct, is either a sin, a vice, or a luxury, none of which we have any rights to partake in; instead, we are conditionally allowed under State supervision.
3. Regressive taxes are fair as long as we are proposing them for causes that we declare to be socially acceptable.
Ironically, there is only conflicting rather than conclusive evidence that such a tax would even work to reduce consumption, a sophisticated examination of the market suggests that it would adapt and work around such a tax, and even the Center for Science in the Public Interest admits that the primary result of such a tax would be raising revenue rather than significantly curbing consumption.
There is, of course, the larger issue here that our friends who advocate an increasingly intrusive State never want to talk about straight up: Where is the line that they will not cross? At what point, for those individuals, should the power of the State be reined in by the rights of the individual?
You won't get a straight answer to that question ... ever.
Because just as badly as the religious right wants to police my bedroom and my libraries in the name of saving my soul, the progressive left wants to restrict my food choices and my recreational activities in the name of saving from myself.