H.L. Menken is quoted as saying that for every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. But what about those who believe that for every complex problem the solution is more tax and more government? Would it surprise Cats that it is Government and its agents that is advocating for more tax and more government.
The Orwellian named Obesity Policy Coalition has been and continues to advocate for a 20% tax on sugary drinks. The Australian Medical Association also want a sugar tax. But do you know what these organisations have in common? Their constituency.
The Obesity Policy Coalition is funded by VicHealth. The AMA is essentially a public sector union, representing its members who are all pretty much Medicare (funded) employees. A government agency and a public sector union calling for tax rises. Who would have thunk it.
The sugar tax battle seems to have been temporarily won (or lost depending on your perspective) with the Turnbull government saying it won’t support a sugar tax. But like the plague infested rats hiding in the sewers waiting for the right opportunity to return, the sugar tax lobby will bide its time and wait for the opportunity to try again. Its soldiers remain in the game. They won’t go away. They will wait for the right opportunity to return.
Start with Lennert Veerman channeling Treasurer Scott Morrisson in the Conversation. Just like Treasurer Morrisson who claimed that the bank tax would increase productivity, the unfortunately named Dr Veerman claims that a sugar tax will increase productivity.
Hey Dr Veerman. If a 20% sugar tax will increase productivity, why not have a 100% sugar tax. Surely that will increase productivity more. Hey. Why not implement a 100% tax on the entire Australian economy. That will obviously lead to Australia having the most productive economy in the world.
The Guardian is also on the job. Who needs political parties when we have activist journalism.
But look no further than our American (trigger warning) brethren. Sorry but Spartacus does not know what the female and/or non-gender specific equivalent of brethren.
In the lovely city of Seattle, the local authorities sought to implement their own version sugar tax by way of a soda (soft drink) tax.
When it was suggested to the then Mayor Ed Murray that a soda tax would have a disproportionately adverse effect on poor and colour people, Mayor Murray brought out the Social Justice Playbook (SJP – Sarah Jessica Parker – hmmmm). And what play did Mayor Murray call? He proposed to extend the tax to all sweetened drinks, including those without sugar; you know, the artificially sweetened ones.
Mayor Murray’s rationale:
Diet drinks were more likely to be consumed by “upper middle class white people.” …. It was “an issue of equity,” a way to tackle “white privileged institutionalized racism.”
Ahh. But what about the revenue from the sweetened drinks tax you ask. Mayor Murray expected that the tax would raise $16 million in the first year. And what would be done with the taxes? In addition to tacking white privileged institutionalized racism, the funds would be used to (among other things):
subsidize trips to the farmers market and pay for free community college.
Hooray. Well meaning government in action bringing you more government action.
For those intellectuals who say a sugar tax will reduce obesity which in turn will reduce the cost of the health budget, why not advocate for a withdraw of health services from obese people? In both cases there is collateral damage to those affected by the policy (unobese people who like sugary drinks and people obese not because of sugar consumption). But one policy increases the size of government and the other reduces the size of government. Could it be that this is not really about obesity but more about moralising and taxing.
As Thomas Jefferson said, the natural progress of things is for liberty to yeild, and government to gain ground.
Eternal vigilance citizens. Eternal vigilance. Let’s make sure the rats stay in the sewer.
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