Monday, March 08, 2010

Soda Jerks

The campaign to raise our taxes through sleight of hand methods-and the soda tax is just one such method-is gaining traction as the hue and cry over the obesity "epidemic" goes full throttle. The NY Daily News reports: "Health officials are ready to make the final push for a statewide tax on sugary drinks, sources told the Daily News Saturday. Both the city and state health commissioners will meet with Gov. Paterson and a team of doctors Monday to discuss the so-called soda tax.Their goal is to tack on a penny-per-ounce tax to drinks with added sugar that contain more than 10 calories per 8 ounces."

Well, the good news here is that this is a governor's initiative-and how long a shelf life it has, as well as Paterson himself-is anyone's guess. But the idea is so wrong headed, and has such a negative implication, that those opposed need to fight back with even greater intensity.

And for the quintessential evidence of wrongheadedness, what could be more appropriate than an endorsement from Mayor, er, Mother Mike. As the NY Times reports: "As the battle over the state budget and the looming multibillion-dollar gap becomes more intense, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has stepped up his call for the Legislature to pass a penny-per-ounce tax on soda to stave off major service cuts to education and health care."

Mike's not without irony, though: "In these tough economic times, easy fixes to our problems are hard to come by,” he said. “But the soda tax is a fix that just makes sense. It would save lives. It would cut rising health care costs. And it would keep thousands of teachers and nurses where they belong: in the classrooms and clinics.”

Just what we need, another tax for these tough economic times. How about a penny stock transfer tax? Now that would keep all the nurses gainfully employed-but such a tax is a no no for Mike because it effects his own peeps. No special pleading for the "above politics" mayor. Right.

This soda tax is more than a classic slippery slope-with other products and behaviors waiting in the wings for the health fascists to set upon: "Experts say soda and other sugar-loaded drinks are the largest source of extra calories consumed by Americans. It's thought that a 10% price hike on soda would cut consumption by 8%. "If the consumer sees the price difference when they're about ready to buy the product, we do see a reduction in consumption of an unhealthy food," said Cathy Nonas, head of nutrition programs for the city Health Department."

It's a never ending spiral for these folks-and you'll notice that the governor never did any economic impact analysis of the measure-and Bloomberg sure doesn't need one to wax rapsodic. That's because they, just like all of the health regulators, are so imbued with the taxing and regulating mind set that they simply don't care. It is, after all, "for the health of our children." And, clearly, the parents of the state can't be trusted to regulate their children well enough, so the state has to step in.

And what's up with the sloth over at the Daily News? A 375 word article without a single dissenting voice? This isn't good journalism-and it belongs as an Op-ed not as a straight news story. In the middle of the Great Recession, it's time for the health regulators to take two steps back-allow the economy to get a bit more healthy before you attempt to force us to conform to your own special notions of what's good for us.