Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Truth Defying "Life or Death" Tax

Daily Politics is reporting that a health advocacy coalition is going up on the airways in support of a soda tax-a, "life or death matter," in their rather jaundiced view: "The Alliance for a Healthier New York, a coalition of labor unions, health care, religious and non-profit groups that support the so-called "fat tax" on sugary drinks proposed by Gov. David Paterson, has launched a statewide campaign urging the Legislature to pass the measure."

But all health issues aside, this is all about the money since the tax funds would be dedicated to the health industry infrastructure: "The campaign takes its name from the fact that Paterson has called for a penny-per-ounce excise tax on non-diet sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages and wants to use the resulting revenue both to fund anti-obesity programs and reduce the need for need cuts in state health care spending. (Which explains why SEIU/1199 and the GNYHA, among other health care interests that stand to lose from the cuts Paterson has proposed, are part of this coalition)."

As for the health side of things, let's just say that hyperbole is at play-as the following narrative from the ad highlights: "Randi Brook: I see overweight and obese kids everyday.

Dr. Lisa Altshuler: I know what their future holds:

Dr. Philip Ozuah: Diabetes, heart disease, cancer.

Altshuler: It's an epidemic...and it's preventable.

Narrator: Over 10 million New Yorkers are dangerously overweight. By adding pennies to the cost of sugary sodas and drinks, we can help reduce obesity and we can use the money to stop devastating healthcare cuts in Albany.

Ozuah: Helping New Yorkers lose weight is a matter of life and death.

Narrator: Tell Albany to pass the Soda Tax. Make New York healthier."

Of course, unable to provide the evidence of causation the proponents of the tax cite correlation of soda drinking with obesity-and we could with little effort find hundreds of other correlatives-fried food, candy bars, Big Macs, etc.-that don't in any way cause obesity. And the health of the city's economy doesn't concern the health folks at all.

In our view, no matter how you market this idea, it comes down to being just another job killing tax. To try to say anything else, is simply putting lipstick on a pig.