The fat tax

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

If some in Illinois have their way, your favorite two-liter soft drink may soon cost you another buck or more. And it's all about obesity. Actually, it all about modifying behavior with more taxes. But who am I to quibble about facts?

Illinois may soon join a growing number of states that want to fight obesity with higher taxes. We've already spent a small fortune to fight obesity with more education and greater access to physical activity, but since that apparently has not worked, the prevailing notion is to tax it to death.

Taxing tobacco and alcohol has certainly worked well. So surely we'll have the same success by taxing soft drinks.

And if you really want to get a hoot, understand that the backers of the higher soft drink tax want to use the funds to build more bike paths. If you build it, they will not come. They will ignore it.

If we're going to tax those items deemed harmful to our waistlines, should we consider other items that aid our waistlines? Free broccoli, anyone?

One obesity researcher said the move to higher taxes on soft drinks would make items like milk more appealing. So why not just lower the price of milk?

Obesity is a serious issue that affects health care costs. That much is a given. But it would appear more likely that returning physical education to a full hour of our daily school routine might also have a positive effect. Perhaps even greater than imposing yet another higher tax.

And I assure you -- and this is a guarantee -- that since the poor consume a disproportionate amount of soft drinks -- read the studies -- there will be some off-setting reimbursement to help cover those targeted higher taxes on this population. That is simply the way of our current government.

Our federal government's solution to all things is higher taxes. But more often than not, the new revenue don't ever solve a problem. Instead, the new taxes simply add more revenue to the coffers that allows government to spend more and accomplish less.

Obesity is either a medical/inherited issue or an issue of lifestyle. If you want to fully address the problem, put a higher tax on sofas. It's often there that you will find the source of the problem.

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