Saturday, February 27, 2010

Taxing McDonalds

I've become more and more of a fan of targeted punitive taxes intended to change behavior. I dislike banning things outright, but I'm all for making people pay more for them. Cigarettes are already taxed in this way, as is liquor, to a lesser extent. From time to time, various groups advocate a junk-food tax, or a soft-drink tax. This is a fantastic idea. Taxes raise revenue and disincentivize an unhealthy practice. Since a large percentage of our population is covered by evil, socialist, government-run health care (Medicare, Medicaid) this is also raising funds from unhealthy activities to pay for the health problems caused by diabetes and obesity.

It turns out that punitive taxes on unhealthy foods are more effective than subsidies on healthy food. Success! Unfortunately, there's a powerful lobby working against this. Who are these "Americans Against Food Taxes"? A small cross-section from their website:

7-Eleven, Inc.
Allen Beverages, Inc.
American Beverage Association
Atlantic Bottling Company
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. High Country
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United, Inc.
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Fort Wayne, IN
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Minden, Inc.
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Northern New England
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Pottsville, PA
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Winona, MN
Coca-Cola Bottling Works, Inc.
Coca-Cola Company, The
Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc.
Coca-Cola of West Greenwich, RI
Dr Pepper Bottling Company of Dublin
Dr Pepper-Royal Crown Bottling Co.
Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Pepsi Bottling Group
Pepsi Bottling Ventures
Pepsi Northwest Beverages
PepsiAmericas, Inc.
PepsiCo, Inc.
Pepsi-Cola & National Brand Beverages
Pepsi-Cola of Florence, LLC
Pepsi-Cola of Rochester, MN
Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Association
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Atmore
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Central VA
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Hastings
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Hickory, NC
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of LaCrosse
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Logansport
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of New York
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Pipestone, MN
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Roxboro, NC
Pepsi-Cola Decatur, LLC
Pepsi-Cola Dr Pepper Bottling Co.
Pepsi-Cola of Northeast Wisconsin
Pepsi-Cola of Topeka

Yeah, ok. Sure, you're just looking out for the little guy. Let's base taxes on policy reasons, please. This is just typical lobbying, masquerading as populism.

I enjoy Pepsi, KFC, and beer as much as the next guy, but I know they're bad for me, so paying more taxes on them seems like the right thing to do. If Medicare has to pay for an angioplasty down the road, fund it with taxes on the causes of all that junk in peoples' arteries.

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