Taxing soda is at best a stupid idea and at worst a cynical ploy by a money-grubbing government, writes Katherine Mangu-Ward for Reason. Here's why:
- Sin taxes don't work: "None of the nickel-and-dime proposals on the table is large enough to discourage soda drinking," Mangu-Ward writes. "And they're not really intended to." But they will raise money.
- Other things cause obesity: "Soda does help people pack on the pounds. But so does absolutely everything everyone eats." There's no magic bullet.
- It's a regressive tax: "Eight ounces of Naked's Mighty Mango juice ($3.79 a bottle at Whole Foods) contains slightly more sugar than the same serving of cola." If the government is desperate for money, why not spread the burden to high-class offenders?
- High-fructose corn syrup is not that bad: "The hazards of cheap corn sweetener are the stuff of pseudo-scientific legend." It's just sugar.
- A scary precedent: If the "government can and should tax any behavior" that adversely impacts health—and health care spending—just you wait for a levy on your remote control.