Soda Tax Deserves to Fizzle

It won't help fat people, or poor people, but will line gov't coffers
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2009 1:39 PM CDT
Pepsi soda products.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – 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.