Fast-food dining faces taxing time

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Taxing fast food is an idea that financially strapped Detroit couldn't ignore.

Detroit's mayor hopes voters won't mind paying a little extra for their Big Mac and fries.

If this revenue initiative catches on, it won't be long until cities nationwide start looking to tax all that stuff we munch on in our rush to grab a bite.

This was bound to happen, what with all the publicity over obesity and what health experts contend is our nation's unhealthy dependence on fast food.

Society increasingly doesn't mind taxing cigarettes to pay for health woes, so it's only a small philosophical step to the idea of taxing fast food.

In New York, a lawmaker has proposed a 1 percent tax on junk food, video games and TV commercials to fund anti-obesity programs.

But all these revenue schemes can be taxing to families that rely on drive-through restaurants to keep their children fed.

It's not that we want to eat all this fast food. But when you have a half-hour to pick up your child from day care, get your child fed and to a softball practice or piano lesson, you don't have time to cook up a meal at home.

So you end up chowing down on a burger and fries, and washing it down with a Coke.

My teenage daughter, Becca, lives on fast food, namely chicken fingers. With her limited menu, she would be hit hard -- or rather her parents would be -- by a fast-food tax.

Even without a tax, you couldn't give away broccoli to Becca.

Personally, I think local governments in our country should look to sell some stuff on eBay rather than squeeze some tax dollars from the sale of quick-cooked burgers.

Maybe officials need to talk to Perry Lonzello of Stillwater, N.J.

He auctioned off a slice of toast carved with his drawing of the Georgia runway bride. The bidding started at just over a dollar. But when it ended Sunday, a California man had submitted the winning bid of $15,400.

Surely, most local governments have some high-priced toast of their own they could sell.

Of course, selling toast art can be risky. According to the Associated Press, the purchaser reneged on shelling out all that money for the toast drawing.

Maybe he couldn't bear to butter it.

But that shouldn't be a problem for cities who clearly have the law on their side when it comes to collecting money.

Speaking of collecting money, my 9-year-old daughter, Bailey, has a knack for saving money.

Give her a few bucks for junk food at the convenience store and she comes back with change. Of course, her skill is in pocketing the change rather than returning it to her parents.

I'm glad she likes to save all those dollar bills. I just wish they weren't my currency.

When Bailey isn't pocketing my money, she's camped out in a tent in our living room. At least that's been the case in recent days.

Personally, it's preferable to having her camp outside in a rain storm. But it does make it harder to keep the living room neat.

Thankfully, government hasn't come up with a tidy tax to fund its programs.

For now, we'll continue to frequent the drive-through lanes and hope that government won't take another bite out of our pocketbook.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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