Another day and anther bunch of do-gooder tax-seeking statists arguing that a tax will make the world a wonderful and safe place. This time it is an obesity tax.
WHEN two out of three Australian adults and one in four children are overweight or obese, it’s clear we have a problem.
Note the lack of a clear definition – actually any definition – of what constitutes “obesity”. Just that about 66 per cent of the population have it.
Luckily there is a cure. No. Not more exercise and less eating – but a tax.
We modelled the effects of adding a tax to foods based on saturated fat, salt and sugar content, adding a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and subsidising fruits and vegetables.
Of course you did. It’s not that I’m opposed to modelling, but I do so prefer actual empirical analysis of real world situations. Like the introduction of the GST, for example. Anyway – moving along – what did the modelling find?
We found that a carefully designed package of taxes and subsidies could have a clear health benefit for Australians — an extra 2.1 healthy years of life for every 100 Australians. The impact on household food expenditure would be less than 1 per cent.
It would also free as much as $3.4 billion in healthcare expenditure over the remaining life of all Australians alive in 2010.
Alright people – contain your excitement.
Note the unusual turn of phrase: “an extra 2.1 healthy years of life for every 100 Australians” and ” as much as $3.4 billion in healthcare expenditure over the remaining life of all Australians alive in 2010“.
So how many years of extra life is that? Hard to actually work out – is it 2.1 years per 100 Australians, like we have to share it? I’m happy to be corrected in the thread, but I reckon that is about one week each. Perhaps it is 23 million Australians divided by 100 and then multiplied by 2.1. If that is the calculation then the population will live in total (and in their model) for 483,000 years longer than before the tax. On average that still turns out to be a week each.
How much money are we saving? Now note – our do-gooder friends never ever say, “We could reduce the health budget by 3.4 billion per annum and cut taxes for those healthy eat less and exercise more types who are doing the right thing by the government.” Oh no. How I understand this statement is that they have used 2010 as their base year. There are a number of Australians alive in that year (say 23 million) and they all have a finite of years to live. So the model defines a total number of living years (maybe they call it years of life). So lets guesstimate that number: 23 million people by (say) 45 years. So that works out to 1,035,000,000 years of life in the model. The tax saves $3.4 billion over 1.035 billion years of life. (If you don’t like the 45 year expected life span substitute another number).
In English – you are being asked to pay a tax that will, on average, save the health budget $3.29 over the remainder of your expected life. Not $3.29 per year, but over the remainder of your life.
Hardly seems worth it.
Update: Threadster Mundi reckons I have miscalculated – (s)he reckons it is $3.29 per year of life, so you would save the health budget $148.05 over your expected life time. Still too hard to get excited.