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Philadelphia Mayor Proposes Sugar Tax on Soda instead of Putting Government on Spending Diet

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Published on: March 15, 2016

Whether it is the federal government or the State government, officials in government are under the impression they have every right to make decisions for the individual that would make us safer, healthier and poorer. States mandated seat belts. Those who are in violation of the law receive a ticket and fine from law enforcement officers. Government has limited authority. No authority is given to government to legislate or mandate compulsory actions interfering with an individual’s personal choice. States are pushing for mandatory vaccines, which again is a personal choice. But, that does not stop government from interfering with the choices individuals have the right to make without government interference.

Case in point: If Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney gets his way, a three-cent tax will be imposed on every ounce of soda drinks containing sugar. According to the Daily Caller, the tax on soda could bring into the city coffers as much as $400 million over the next five years for “education initiatives and recreational facilities.” It is part of Kenney’s $4.17 billion spending plan. The city council has historically fought the introduction of soda taxes, as was seen with Kenney’s predecessor, Michael Nutter.

The Daily Caller reports:

The proposed tax will be levied on distributors, but the beverage industry claims the cost will be passed directly onto consumers — as it was in Berkeley, Cali.

“Soda tax proponents are asking us to suspend normal assumptions about human behavior and simply assume that people who reduce soda consumption to avoid the tax, won’t just make their own sugary drinks and won’t replace the calories with other high-calorie foods or drinks,” said head of the risk analysis division at the National Center for Public Policy Research Jeff Stier.

A UK Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) research note indicated there are “no credible studies to date” showing a significant impact of soda taxes on obesity. In fact, these taxes were found to be inefficient and affect the poor hardest. The institute cited Denmark’s “fat tax” as an example.

Denmark’s introduction of the “fat tax” occurred in December 2011. The tax proved itself as hugely unpopular and ineffective, “with people switching to cheaper brands or buying the products they preferred from across the border, that it was repealed in January 2013.”

IEA head of lifestyle economics and the research note’s author, Christopher Snowdon, wrote that consumers would often switch to a cheaper brand or buy from a cheaper store as behavioral responses to higher taxes. This results in the “consumption of inferior goods rather than the consumption of fewer calories.” Snowdon indicated there was no impact on obesity or health outcomes found as a result of sugary soda consumption. Moreover, “early evidence from Mexico suggests that a ten percent tax on sugary drinks led to an average daily decline in consumption of 36 ml [just over one ounce] per person.”

This is the equivalent of approximately 16 calories or a “drop in the caloric ocean.” To prevent obesity, one has to calculate the number of calories needed daily based on body type, gender, activity level, etc., account for the loss of 500 calories per day due to breathing and average activity, then reduce that total by approximately 300 – 500 calories per day to prevent obesity.

Snowdon concludes by citing a systematic review of 880 studies that found “the public health case for using economic instruments to promote dietary and physical activity behavior change may be less compelling than some proponents have claimed.”

This is about squeezing another hard-earned dime out of consumers to place in the government coffers for these crooks to spend as they see fit. No authority is given to government to “regulate,” interfere or control someone’s choice of food to prevent obesity or health conditions resulting from poor eating habits. And, the ability to levy taxes certainly was not intended for government at any level to tax into oblivion its citizens; although, that is what government has adopted in order to increase their coffers instead of curbing the spending.

If an individual wants to eat a five-pound bag of sugar, the individual can eat a five-pound bag of sugar. It isn’t recommended due to adverse effects on one’s health, but government does not have the authority to interfere in your choice through any means, even a tax. Yet, Americans see more and more that government is wheedling its way into every individual choice and inherent right.

Remember the mayor of New York City limiting the ounces of soda that could be sold because of health concerns? People circumvented that little ordinance. It prevented nothing. It was a means of control, nothing more. But, this proposal by Kenney is nothing more than bilking the public of more money to fund projects instead of trimming the fat in the government monetary diet. Government is a glutton that has grown fat off the monetary diet it increasingly extracts from the public without exercising some form of “maintenance.”

Philadelphia residents should tell Kenney and the city council the city needs to go on a “monetary maintenance” diet since government has grown fat and lazy, extracting more from the people than it responsibly returns.

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