Casting around for ways to raise money to pay for health care reform, some politicians have hit on the idea of taxing “sugary drinks”, i.e. coke, sprite, Dr. Pepper, and so on. The idea is that this would be a new sin tax, as on cigarettes and beer.
A tax on soft drinks, sodas, sugary drinks, or whatever one wants to call it has a certain strange logic for those people in favor of a nanny state. Sugary drinks, especially in quantity, are bad for people. They cause tooth decay, obesity, diabetes, and likely a while host of other ills. And if the ultimate goal is to have government run the health care system, paying for part of it by taxing sugary drinks, soft drinks, sodas, or what have you would have the salutary effect of raising money while discouraging the consumption of something that is bad for you.
I would personally not be affected too much. I tend to drink iced tea with artificial sweetener, fruit flavored water, lemonade, and green tea. The other sin taxes don’t affect me much either. I don’t smoke and drink moderately.
But if the principle is that the government should be free to tax something it judges to be bad for people, then one can only come to the conclusion that it will eventually hit upon taxing something I like. I like barbeque, for example. Some people think that red meat is bad for me and that outdoor grilling is bad for the planet. Hence, a tax on brisket, links, pork loin, and charcoal.
Every Saturday night is fantasy role playing night and, also, incidentally junk food night. It’s the one night that I indulge in root beer or ginger ale, chips, and dip. These things are bad for me, the government nanny state bureaucrat informs me. Hence, a tax on chips and dip and probably fantasy role playing too.
You like cake and ice cream for birthday parties? They are bad for you and will be taxed.
Government bureaucrats, strapped for cash to pay for government programs such as health care reform, are likely to be very inventive in finding things that are bad for one and then slapping a tax on it. I don’t eat organic vegetables because they are overpriced and do not provide benefits. So, there will be a tax on the factory farmed raised, genetically modified lettuce, onions, and other veggies that I prefer.
So perhaps it is time to draw the line at sugary drinks, sodas, soft drinks and tell the government nanny state, “No more!” What they propose to use the tax money to fund is dubious at best, catastrophic at worse. Jefferson said that government governs best that governs least. He might have also observed that the government that taxes the least is the best period.
Source: New Report Calls for Tax on Soft Drinks, Betsey McKay and Valerie Bauerlein, Wall Street Journal, September 16th, 2009