Apr. 12th, 2017

kindkit: Second Doctor looking throughtful. (Doctor Who: Second Doctor thoughtful)
In May there will be a vote in my city on a proposed tax on soda and sugary drinks; the tax amount will be $.02 per fluid ounce, raising the price of a 12 oz can by 24 cents and a 2-liter bottle by about $1.28. The money raised is supposed to go to improve access to pre-kindergarten education.

I'm not often on the fence, politically, but I am about this.


Pro: Pre-K education is a good thing and poor children should receive it.

Con: All sales taxes are regressive, because poor people spend more of their income on goods than rich people do. Therefore it will hit poor people harder. It might have an extra dose of regressiveness, too, because I suspect (although I have no numbers) that poor and working class people are more likely to drink soda than middle-class people, and so the people most in favor of the tax (i.e. middle class people) are likely to pay a lot less of it.

Pro: Soda and other sugared drinks are not a necessity. If people drink fewer sugared drink because of the tax, that could even be a good thing.

Con: The "pro" point above has a strong element of food policing, which I hate. And it's a highly class-inflected food policing, too; nobody has proposed a special tax on expensive triple-cream cheeses or foie gras. This tax is, in part, about making poor people behave in the way middle class people think they should.

Pro: The main force behind opposition to the tax is the beverage industry, which is trying to create panic over (probably spurious) job losses and so on. This makes me want to vote for the tax just to hurt the corporations.

Con: On the other hand, I want to vote against it to spite the sanctimonious hippies, food police, and obesity panic-mongerers. I recognize that this isn't the moral equivalent of voting against corporate interests, but I feel it nevertheless.


Unanswered questions: How much money will the tax actually raise (the city projects $7 million per year)? How much will that amount of money actually improve pre-K access? Why has nobody proposed, say, a property tax increase on houses worth over $300,000 as an alternative that would shift the financial burden to the well off?


Anybody have thoughts?

N.B.: Given the nature of the post, I will accept reasoned comments about potential health impacts. My definition of "reasoned" includes, "You have given some thought to why it's problematic to try to dictate what other people eat." I will delete the hell out of concern trolling, fat-shaming, etc.

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