It is not a tax on the poor, it's a tax on the stupid.
There are plenty of alternatives to soda - water, cordials, milk, tea, coffee. All of them are healthier than sodas, and some are cheaper.
Even if you don't ascribe to the current view that all sugar is bad, no one can deny that soda is very bad for your health. Worse than chocolate or donuts, because although those are laden with calories, they also fill your belly and contain some nutrients. Soda is very high-calorie with no nutritional value, AND it rots your teeth.
In an ideal world, corporations would be responsible enough not to sell the stuff. Also, people would be intelligent enough not to drink it. The easy option would be for government to ban it, but that would cause an outcry - so the tax is the only way they can think of to discourage people from drinking quite so much of the rubbish.
Using the tax code as a method of "convincing" people to live healthy is not only a very slippery slope, but is completely unacceptable anyway. Taxes should support government, not be a tool for social engineering.
So what else do you suggest? Education isn't working.
Let people do as they choose, without forcing our own desires/opinions on them? Education is fine...using force, even financial force, is not.
If you want to skydive then skydive. If you want to drive race cars, drive race cars. And if you want to drink soda then drink soda. It is not my place to require you to behave as I wish you would (barring, of course, harm to others).
Except their bad behavior costs the rest of us money, i.e., cigarette smokers who drive up health insurance premiums with cancer, heart attacks and other diseases. Why should I pay for their health bills?
I hope you don't mind if I jump in here, but I found an interesting perspective in a USA Today article about smoker's costs to the government.
"Vanderbilt University economist Kip Viscusi studied the net costs of smoking-related spending and savings and found that for every pack of cigarettes smoked, the country reaps a net cost savings of 32 cents.
"It looks unpleasant or ghoulish to look at the cost savings as well as the cost increases and it's not a good thing that smoking kills people," Viscusi said in an interview. "But if you're going to follow this health-cost train all the way, you have to take into account all the effects, not just the ones you like in terms of getting your bill passed."
Viscusi worked as a litigation expert for the tobacco industry in lawsuits by states but said that his research, which has been published in peer-reviewed journals, has never been funded by industry.
Other researchers have reached similar conclusions.
A Dutch study published last year in the Public Library of Science Medicine journal said that health care costs for smokers were about $326,000 from age 20 on, compared to about $417,000 for thin and healthy people.
The reason: The thin, healthy people lived much longer."
I am not advocating this argument, but it does throw an interesting perspective at your rationalization for the taxes.
That's interesting. I initially assumed that they were factoring in the amount of tax dollars reaped through the sale of cigarettes to the individual vs the cost of health care. I think once you factor in the tax money garnered from the whole endeavor it would be viewed as a win-win for the money grubbers among us.
It was an interesting perspective Live to Learn, but as I noted, it is not a view I would accept as valid rationalization.
As I understood it, the premise includes the taxes gathered, and the decreased healthcare costs due to early death. I just can't get behind the thought of including "early death" savings in the equation.
But I have to admit the logic of the researcher's thought;
" "But if you're going to follow this health-cost train all the way, you have to take into account all the effects, not just the ones you like in terms of getting your bill passed."
So if people die early from smoking, the government doesn't have to pay for their Medicare and Social Security. The rest of us still get stuck with the medical bills. I guess it comes down to who should bear the cost for their bad behavior.
I don't disagree with your thought about the "sinners," (specifically alcohol and tobacco sinners), paying to defray the cost of their sin promisem, but generally speaking, the sin taxes aren't doing that, so they amount to no more than penalty taxes. ie. social engineering.
Our tax system was created and designed to provide revenue for our government's operation, to use it as a social engineering tool is wrong. I can see this as another example of a topic we have discussed, and agreed on, before - the end justifying the means.
Would your "intelligent" people also not drink store-bought fruit juice? Or would they not give their kids store-bought "sippee"-type drinks? Do you think the nutritional value of a 1.7oz candy bar outweighs the 40 grams, (3 Musketeers), of sugar it contains?
Would your "intelligent" people support a truthful "Sugar" tax as strongly as you seem to support a deceitful "Soda" tax?
Intelligent people shouldn't be drinking fruit juice either, but at least it has some nutritional value, as does the candy bar. Sodas are all harmful ingredients and absolutely no nutrition.
So let's call it a Non-Nutritious Sugary Drink tax.
The trouble with saying people should just be allowed to drink or eat whatever they want, is that when they get fat and develop diabetes and all the other diseases associated with obesity, they don't conveniently die of them. They linger on for years and my taxes have to pay for their healthcare.
…. maybe we should ban them, then … until health is not EVERYONE'S issue/problem !!!!
I was initially speechless at the complete insensitivity of such a comment. I realize the selfish nature of society in this day and age but this one comment showcases how completely self centered and inconsiderate our money grubbing has become. I certainly hope you don't come down with any inconvenient and expensive illness. With an attitude such as displayed in your comment I suppose we should find people who are genetically predisposed to illness to be a burden on the rest of us whom would be advised to 'conveniently die'.
Marisa, we are worlds apart with respect to what "...people should be allowed..." to do.
First it was sin taxes, (alcohol and tobacco), now it is 'you're too dumb' taxes, (soda taxes). Does your supporting logic extend to processed grain flours in the form of 'not the smart choice' taxes?
I am reminded of a phrase that says something like; "My rights stop at the tip of your nose, as does yours stop at the tip of mine." The best we, (you and I). could hope for, here, would be a lively argument - with no profit to either of us.
“Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.” (author unknown)
A philosophical conundrum, for whatever a man does affects those around him. What color he paints his house, how he parts his hair, what he wears.
But what is often found at the end of the discourse is that some noses end an inch from the face while others extend coast to coast.
Hey Wilderness, I am glad I qualified that semi-quote of the phrase. But, even corrected - the point is the same.
As for that conundrum... no matter how "enlightened," or "intelligent," or "advanced" a society of humans becomes, reality dictates that some consequential effects will just have to be accepted as a part of life.
To get back to the soda tax... specifically that the very name chosen gives lie to the stated motives and intentions. I see it as just a political grab for another revenue source, and more control; intentionally camouflaged behind a rationalization of being for our own good, and the good of our fellow man.
*I can hear the music and see those "good citizen" montages now - as they slowing fade to an image of our waving flag.
"As for that conundrum... no matter how "enlightened," or "intelligent," or "advanced" a society of humans becomes, reality dictates that some consequential effects will just have to be accepted as a part of life."
Depends on what you mean here. With increasing numbers and decreasing distance between members yes, there are effects of living in each other's laps, so to speak, and one of those is an inevitable loss of some personal freedoms.
But if "enlightened," "intelligent," or "advanced" means "I know better than you do how you should live your life and therefore I shall set the priorities you shall live by" then I cannot agree. And "advanced" society does not depend on "might makes right" to priorities onto others; priorities that have zero to do with that society.
In this case the priority for some is immediate pleasure (drinking a soda) over health (the downfalls of sugar), and that is their choice. It is not a choice that society needs make for them in the guise of either "I have the power to enforce this" or "Only I can set reasonable priorities; yours are messed up".
Bottom line; it is indeed a money grab by politicians, cloaked in garb that many will latch onto and provide the necessary power to enforce their priorities onto others.
There is a third meaning for that conundrum that even enlightened.. etc... societies must accept. And that is that in any human society, enlightened, or not, there will always be some consequential effects that are just a part of life - no matter how regulated, or unregulated that society is.
Accepting "I know better than you" legislative or regulating edicts certainly wasn't my meaning. And I am not sure that was the meaning of the legislator's motives for the soda tax either. Maybe their constituents proposal of the bill was motivated for the good of all, but I think the proposing legislators just saw money and control opportunities.
GA, with that in mind, what is your stand on cigarette and alcohol taxes?
Hi promisem, I will be glad to trade answers with you. I do not support cigarette and alcohol taxes either.
Now, before you mention the increased healthcare costs burden rational, check around and see where all those sin tax monies really go. They do not go where most folks think.
On the federal level, regarding tobacco taxes, only about 3% goes to smoking cessation programs. Some goes to healthcare programs unrelated to smoking, like; increased medicaid provider payment schedules, or medicaid dental services funding, but most goes into general funding - completely unrelated to stop-smoking programs or coverage for expanded healthcare costs caused by the sinners.
The states are even worse. Most states treat sin tax monies as general funds revenue.
If your reason for supporting them is as you mentioned to Wilderness, do you still support them if the money doesn't go to defraying the additional cost those sinners generate? Or do you support sin taxes just for the purpose of being penalties?
My turn. Using your support of the soda tax logic, do you also support a Fruit juice tax and a candy bar tax? Both have as much or more sugar than sodas.
Isn't the real question whether or not taxes work as social engineering? The answer seems to be yes:
"Well over 100 studies, including a growing number from low-income and middle-income countries, clearly demonstrate that tobacco excise taxes are a powerful tool for reducing tobacco use while at the same time providing a reliable source of government revenues. "
If studies show that high soda consumption is leading to costly health problems, then taxes are a legitimate tactic. I have not seen studies showing abusive if not addictive consumption of fruit juice and candy also are leading to health problems, so my answer to your final question is no.
And there is the difference in our perspective promisem. You support using the tax system as a social engineering tool, and I do not.
I see it as just as much a perversion of the system as Nixon's use of the IRS for his own political purposes. Both cases illustrate misuse of the intent of the system, but because you agree with this purpose of its use, you don't think it is wrong. Surely you don't think Nixon's misuse of the system was OK too?
But at least we did get to the crux of the soda tax question - it is not for defraying the cost of the sin, it is for behavior modification.
This does seem to be an instance where you do accept the "end justifies the means" because you agree with the "end." You are going to need a good set of Ice Cleats to maintain your balance on that slippery slope.
I think we have a misunderstanding. I believe such taxes are beneficial to society because they defray the cost of the sin AND modify behavior.
I must also disagree with the connection between taxes for social engineering, which is a secondary benefit to raising government revenues, and Nixon's misuse of the IRS for political power.
I pay a toll on certain roads because I use those roads and because they cost money to build and maintain. People who don't use those roads do not have to pay a toll.
By the same logic, I believe people should pay more for consuming products that inflict a heavy cost on society. Again, I shouldn't have to pay for their bad behavior. It goes to the core Republican concept of individual responsibility.
I am not sure about there being a misunderstanding promisem. At least I can't see what it might be.
Your responses have repeatedly stated the benefit of sin taxes as a source of money to defray the additional healthcare costs those sins induce - having the sinner subsidize their sin costs. But that position isn't supported by the reality that most of the sin tax monies, (both state and federal), are used, generally, as general funds for other purposes - unrelated to the healthcare costs of the sin.
I could include multiple links of simple Google searches, but my look-arounds weren't very deep, and I think you would find the information much more relevant if you chose your own sources to check. I am confident you will reach the same conclusions I did.
The reality is that sin taxes are not generally used for the purposes stated, they are used for whatever budget needs get prioritized.
Look at Philadelphia hitting the news cycle over its soda tax money spending; 0% budgeted towards sugar-sin related costs. 100% used on general funds expenditures;
The Federal tobacco tax money expenditures include only 3% towards anti-smoking programs, 97% is divided between other non-smoking related programs and budget priorities.
The reality is that your "helps defray associated healthcare costs" justification isn't supportable, but your social engineering justification is.
So, like the purposeful deceit of the name - Soda Tax, the deceitful claim, (of proponents, not just you specifically), of defraying costs is also purposely deceitful.
Which leaves only social engineering as the honest explanation for sin taxes.
Would you reconsider your "defrays costs" support if you found the same lack of that justification that I did? Would you then continue your support of sin taxes for the primary purpose of social engineering?
I believe in the intent. You judge the result. It seems to me that we should require government to use sin taxes for their intended purpose.
You are right promisem, I do judge results. And you are also right that we should require our government to do what it says. But then we would be having a different discussion about sin taxes wouldn't we?
Are you still satisfied with your rationalization of intent instead of the reality of actions? Do you still support sin taxes - knowing the reality of their application, instead of the intent of their implementation?
"I believe people should pay more for consuming products that inflict a heavy cost on society. Again, I shouldn't have to pay for their bad behavior."
You (meaning those members of society that agree with your line of thinking) make a conscious choice to pick up the health costs for those that abuse soda. Or drugs or alcohol or any other substance.
And then, because of that choice, you demand that others pay more for their own choices...because your choice has resulted in costs to you - costs that you don't want to pay.
Does this seem reasonable to you? What gives you the right to make choices for you that require removal of choice from others? While you certainly have the freedom to pay for other's choices that you disagree with, what gives you the right to then remove/reduce their freedom to choose for themselves because you don't like the price of your own choice?
I may be misunderstanding you, but I don't make a choice to pick up their tab. I object to it, but I can't refuse to pay for the health insurance premiums to cover their bad behavior unless I want to go without insurance.
I infer that unless you pay for their insurance you can't have any either. Even if I got it right (really fuzzy here), I don't see why buying insurance for yourself means you must buy it for others.
Or are we totally and completely confusing each other?
Soda is admittedly my biggest vice, I make lots of healthy choices every day but then I make some not-so-healthy ones whenever I pick up a can of soda. I don't consider myself to be a stupid person. I think most people make choices from time to time that aren't 100% safe or totally in their best interests.
I think smoking is an incredibly bad choice but I know lots of smart people who do it.
Too much alcohol is bad for you but I know lots of smart people who have a couple of drinks every night.
Bad choices do not necessarily equal stupidity as humans tend to be a bit more complicated than that.
If you're angry that you have to pay taxes that go towards people who drink soda, where do you draw the line? Do you think that line should be universal? Like, do you view everyone who doesn't eat strictly organic everything as a strain on your tax dollars? What about people who have a glass of wine with their dinner every night? Or have you just arbitrarily decided to only be so judgmental about people who enjoy soda?
Anyway, more relevant to the original post, I really don't mind paying extra tax on my soda (it's killing me to keep calling it soda as here it's called 'pop'). I get it, I know it's not a healthy choice, it's fine by me to pay a bit extra into taxes for it.
Americans do not like taxes as a general rule. Its okay if they're for something we all agree on … something that benefits us ALL. But what about the people who can't afford more expensive non-sugar drinks? What about them? Why should they be penalized, pray tell, Aime F???? And in fact, why should YOU be penalized?
Eh? Pop is already more expensive than most drinks except maybe milk. It would cost me about $2 less to buy the same amount of juice, and hey, water is free. I'm simply saying that as a person who drinks pop, I wouldn't be mad at an extra tax. I'm not pretending to speak for everyone, you don't have to like it, but it's fine by me personally.
Hi Amie F, I can certainly see the logic of your personal perspective, but are you also fine with the reason you have to pay more?
I am a soda lover too. And I would pay the additional tax to get my sodas. But I would not agree that it is only right that I pay more. And I would not accept the deceitful justifications for my extra taxing.
Thank you for your comments. This discussion has been moved to "Q&A".
How about banning everything not conducive to health?!
Here is the start of the list:
EVERYTHING with processed, white, vitamin-robbing, depression causing SUGAR.
EVERY TYPE of ALCOHOL.
ALL products containing nutrient robbing, intestine clogging and Roundup laden WHITE FLOUR.
ALL Genetically Modified Vegetables, (such as CORN and all CORN products:TORTILLAS, TORTILLA CHIPS, ETC.) which cause stomach lining damage to bugs and people alike!!!
ALL foods treated with various types of toxic pesticides: FRUITS, VEGETABLES, GRAINS, LEGUMES.
ALL pesticide laden vegetables such as FROZEN VEGETABLES, FROZEN DINNERS, CANNED VEGETABLES.
ALL Pesticide treated fruit products: Bottled and packaged JUICES, CANNED FRUITS.
"Farmers quickly adopted glyphosate, especially after Monsanto introduced glyphosate-resistant Roundup Ready crops, enabling farmers to kill weeds without killing their crops. In 2007, glyphosate was the most used herbicide in the United States' agricultural sector and the second-most used in home and garden (2,4-D being the most used), government and industry, and commerce. By 2016 there was a 100-fold increase from the late 1970s in the frequency of applications and volumes of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) applied, with further increases expected in the future, partly in response to the global emergence and spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds."
In a 2010 report on environmental cancer risks, the President’s Cancer Panel (an expert committee that monitors the country’s cancer program) wrote: “The entire U.S. population is exposed on a daily basis to numerous agricultural chemicals. … Many of these chemicals have known or suspected carcinogenic or endocrine-disrupting properties.” Endocrine disruptors can block or mimic the action of hormones, even at low doses. “Endocrine effects aren’t sufficiently factored into the EPA pesticide-tolerance levels,” Crupain says. “And there’s concern they could cause reproductive disorders; birth defects; and breast, prostate, and other hormone-related cancers.”
FROM http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/heal … /index.htm
The answer, of course, is that it is a money grab and We The People should not allow it.
Let us drink (tax free) POP!
… after all, according to 7Up, "you like it and it likes you!"
( and no one ever wishes they had had a V8. )
and to open up a bottle of Coca Cola today is to "open happiness!" who could tax happiness ... or "the real thing" ??
FYI: "The 1906 slogan, "The Great National Temperance Beverage," reflects a time when the society in the United States was veering away from alcoholic beverages, and Coca-Cola provided a nice alternative."
FROM: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories … re-slogans
Taxes are something we pay for the good of society. I pay for roads and don't drive, I pay for schools and have not kids. A tax on unhealthy foods at least has some extra benefit in maybe discouraging people from drinking them, including me. If I choose not to take the hint which is pretty likely, sure, it's fair that I pay the tax. I'm supporting the industry that has negative effects on community health, so it's fair.
I think you are wrong about taxes being for the good of society psycheskinner. They are for the purpose of funding the government. And the two are not the same.
That may be your opinion about the purpose of taxes, but if you look for support of that opinion, I think you will find that their original, and continued purpose is to fund a government's operations.
So you may be fine with the sin taxes, but they are not being levied for the reasons stated
If taxes fund government, and government exists to protect society, how are taxes therefore not good for society?
uh … becuz the middle man (Govt.) nabs the money for itself?
For instance, where did the extra cigarette taxes go? They were supposed to "help the children."
… well, did they???
and recently cigarettes went up another 60%. They were 6.50 a pack. Now they are about ten dollars a pack. Some brands are 15 dollars a pack!
Soda is about a dollar and 80 cents a bottle. Natural non-sugar beverages are twice that. Soda Pop could go up as high as non-sugar (carbonated) drinks. That is not fair in the least.
Government intervention is not fair to the industries, employers and employees who are involved and dependent on free-market competition.
We can regulate ourselves.
My state used the cigarette taxes to remodel the capital building. They were really proud of getting those millions from a few people without political pull enough to object and told us all how wonderful it all was for a year or so. The non-smokers (getting a new statehouse for "free") cheered.
<My state used the cigarette taxes to remodel the capital building.>
Well, good if you're a non-smoker wishing to have something without paying for it. If you're a smoker, forced to foot the bill for what others want it isn't so great. It never is for those small groups that are hit with big taxes so the majority don't have to pay as much.
It sounds like you are saying we should have no government.
Today's government exists to protect and funnel money to politicians while maintaining their power base. Anything else is a sideline, whether good or bad for society.
promisem, given your implied perspective, that is a rhetorical question that is just begging for a beating.
Would it just be a semantics argument to offer that "for the good of society" is not the same as "good for society?" Can specific segments of society be considered as the whole of society?
I will stick with my thought that the purpose of taxes is to fund a government's operation, and unless you can agree that everything a government does is for the good of the whole of society, then your question answers itself.
I enjoy verbal beatings. That's why I keep coming back here.
I also used to think you were something of a pragmatist, but now I'm starting to think you are an idealist.
Yes, I agree that the purpose of taxes is to fund a government's operation. Government should exist for the good of society. The fact that it's not perfectly good shouldn't lead us to reject all government.
I'm not saying necessarily that you reject all government. But other posters seem to think that way.
You nailed me promisem, I am a pragmatic idealist. I agree with that fellow that said; "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."
I think this soda tax topic is a good example of that. As an idealist, I do not support sin taxes. Throughout their history, from the earliest to this latest one - their purpose has been for social engineering. I think using our tax system for that is wrong.
However, if sin tax monies were actually used the for the purposes stated to get them enacted, then my objection to them as social engineering tools wouldn't have such firm footing, and the pragmatist in me might have to accept them as being part of a society.
Note that I didn't say I would support their use, I still think the tax system is the wrong application, but I would accept that there is some validity to their purpose.
And no, I do not reject government. I understand it is a necessity, no matter how evolved or enlightened a society becomes, what I reject is government exceeding its limits of purpose.
I'm confused. Sin taxes used for social engineering is wrong, but sin taxes that actually ARE used for social engineering is right. Or maybe a little bit right.
Well Wilderness, either you are right, you are confused, or you are right, that I was not clear.
Sin taxes are sold to the public, primarily, as a way to defray the cost of the sin to society, ie. soda tax monies would go to diabetic related programs, or diabetic related healthcare costs. A secondary, but not as heavily promoted, intention is that the additional cost will deter some from the sin. But, that is obviously social engineering, so it takes a back seat to the promotional justification that the tax will defray cost non-sinners are paying to support the sinner's cost to society.
I know that you already know that, I was just setting the stage to be clear in my point.
I don't support sin taxes because I think it is wrong to use the tax system for social engineering purposes. (*I don't like any kind of forced social engineering) And I feel firmly justified in that position. Doubly so when the reality is that the "defrays costs" justification is provably bogus.
But, if the sin tax monies were really used as proclaimed, then the promoted primary purpose would at least be the truth, (the secondary intention would still be social engineering), and it would be a little harder for me to be so condemning of the process when at least it was truthfully promoted, and, there were some true reduction of the sinner's cost to non-sinners. I would still be against using the tax system this way, but I would have to begrudgingly admit there was some logic to the process. Hence my comment that my position footing might not be so firm.
So... Maybe I am skirting the edge, but for me, the primary purpose is the determinate of the action. Using the force of our tax system for social engineering, and, lying about the purpose of the tax, makes it doubly wrong.
Got it. I think. To use sin taxes for their stated purpose is a little bit right, but still over ridden by the bigger sin of social engineering via the tax code. Still a negative, then, just not as big a negative.
Side issue; tobacco taxes. Supposed to be used to help smokers and their health problems, actually put to any and every cause BUT that. And raised over and over because "it helps keep people, particularly young people, from smoking". And now more than one state legislator is finding they are facing massive shortfalls all over the budget because of the loss of tobacco tax. Which certainly says something about where the money actually went!
Yep, you got it. And your tobacco taxes example is one the pro-sin tax folks jump on. It appears the taxes did accomplish their social engineering goal - reduced smokers, but as already mentioned; is an "end justifies the means" rational enough justification to override the wrongness of using the tax system to do it?
IMO, no it's not. We have massive tax breaks and other problems, solely from efforts at social engineering.
No, taxes are to operate the government and enable it to do it's job. Not to provide incentive (positive or negative) for whatever program politicians currently find in vogue.
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