Thursday, October 8, 2009

Should we tax soda?

Should the government tax soda pop, Kool Aid, and other sugary drinks, as a way of funding increased healthcare access and reducing obesity, especially in kids?

Honestly, I'm torn. I'd love to know your thoughts.

On the one hand I can see the obvious benefits. Some $14.9 billion a year could be raised by a mere 1 cent-per-can tax, researchers say. There's no question that high cigarette taxes have prompted many people to quit, and discouraged many more young people from starting. And I do think sugared soda is the Marlboro Man of our time.

But my libertarian side is kicking in here.
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1. If we tax soda, why not candy? And if we tax candy, why not, say, red meat? Or how about products with trans fats? New York City, the Emerald City of Nanny States, has already banned its restaurants from using trans fats. What about diet sodas? And where is all this going, really? Is there to be no end of regulating people's personal behavior "for their own good." Yes, I know the argument: "We're all paying for it." But isn't that an argument against the welfare state, rather then for the nanny state? These are generally zero calories but some have said they should be taxed, anyway.

2. Who's to say a 1-cent-tax would be effective in driving people away from Coke? Wouldn't it need to be much higher, in the cigarette-tax range, before it would have any effect? About half the states already have soda taxes and I'm aware of no research suggesting that these taxes have been anything more than a source of funding for government, to which they have become addicted, not an effective method of driving down obesity or reducing soda consumption in those states. So, what kind of tax are we talkting about here?

OK, let me have it. No one sees more of America's large behinds than the people who read this blog. Yes or no on a soda tax? And what else (or more), if anything, should the government do to reduce the size of out waistlines?


  1. agree with you. Cigarettes are one thing- clearly cancer sticks, but sugar is ubiquitous. How about an extra tax on fast food value meals?

  2. Where does this stop? Find me the constitutional precept to control personal behavior please. This debate should be about the basis of our laws not about who has the most votes to control others lives. The tyranny of the majority was denounced by the framers.

    If you are looking to fund health care, look to individual actuarial tables like used in the automotive insurance industry and remove the ability of insurers to collude legally.