It was, I suppose inevitable.
Hard on the heels of Philadelphia imposing a sugar tax on soft drinks to tax the fat poor in order to help them, along come The Greens revisiting their own policies of imposing a 20 per cent tax on the demonised products in order to tackle childhood obesity.
It seems that the Greens are far better than natural parents at caring and nurturing – perhaps they should set up kibbutzes to ensure that infants are also more adequately schooled in “safe sex”, the Great Barrier Reef’s disappearance and how cheap is renewable energy. Oops, they already have those – they are called state schools!
Flushed with victory at taking down the tobacco industry the nanny staters are looking for fresh fields on which to impose their own righteous values. Alcohol would be a great target but the support of many wineries for The Greens and their own members’ love of chardonnay rules that out. So soft drinks it is.
But why stop there? Soft drinks have a sugar content of 10-90 per cent. But sweets are typically 70 per cent, dried apples 80 per cent, cakes 40-70 per cent. You would surely need a graduated tax. For fruits, this would place a high impost on apples, pineapples, grapes and mangoes but a low one on those wanting to chew limes, rhubarb and avocados. A graduated tax would have the added value of requiring a vast new department of experts and enforcers to determine the appropriate rate for each of the tens of thousands of different fruits and their varieties before moving on to veggies, and other products.
As with all other interventionary policies favoured by The Greens and their acolytes, there is no end to the slippery slope. The strategy is to start with the easiest target and move on – and when taxation is shown to have little effect the next step is a tightening of the screws by regulatory measures.
It is such a sad commentary on the state of the world that we have multitudes of busy-bodies wanting to dictate how we live – and it is even sadder that they find that their message resonates among increasing numbers of voters.