Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why we need an under-informed person tax.

New York governor David Paterson weighs in today on CNN.com about why, for the love of God and all that's holy, New York state needs an "obesity" tax--that is, a tax on sugared pop ("soda" for some of you) and juices that have less than 70 percent actual juice in them.

Here's the link to the article itself: O M G THE CHILLLLLDREN!!!!!



It's the usual song-and-dance that we're all used to - OMG the fat children are taking over OMG fat causes everything that's bad and wrong with the world OMG the only way to solve it is to tax the shit out of junk food OMG OMG OMG.

The one bit that actually is worth more than an eye-roll is this:

"To address the obesity crisis, we need more than just a surcharge on soda. We need to take junk food out of our schools. We need to encourage our children to exercise more. And we need to increase the availability of healthy food in underserved communities."

Now, of course, take out the "to address the obesity crisis" and replace it with "to address the lack of access many communities and citizens have to quality foods and adequate healthcare", and you've got something there. But instead, Gov. Paterson is, like so many ill-informed government types and regular folks, waving the OBEEEESITY EPIDEMIC!!!!! flag because panic sells. Panic is profitable. Actual information isn't sexy, people.

Let us take a moment to repeat the following: CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION.

Obesity causes serious health problems like type 2 diabetes - WRONG. CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION
high blood pressure- WRONG. CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION
high cholesterol - WRONG. CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION
It puts children at much greater risk for life-threatening conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer
- WRONG AGAIN. CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION.

"Just as the cigarette tax has helped reduce the number of smokers and smoking-related deaths, a tax on highly caloric, non-nutritional beverages can help reduce the prevalence of obesity." No, it'll just mean that people will either pay the tax on sugared pop/pseudo-juice and CONTINUE BEING FAT or cut back on drinking sugared pop/pseudo-juice and CONTINUE BEING FAT. It's wacky how that whole thing works. I rarely drink sugared pop. I like the taste of diet pop so that is what I choose to drink. Holy shit, folks, STILL FAT.

The deliciously spectacular Kate Harding discusses it further, so have a peek. There's also a link in there leading to another quality post about how it would be so lovely for the government to invest some serious money in getting people good food, safe places to get out and gad about, and quality healthcare. It would be such a delight if the government would invest some serious time in actually making an effort to do research and for someone--ANYONE--to use some critical thinking. I mean, I know that's plumb nutty to even suggest, but I reckon it's worth a try.

Oh, and the other thing that made me snort, because PLEASE:

We must never stigmatize children who are overweight or obese.

But you already do, boss. And with more and more legislative horseshit like this, with "The Biggest Loser" and every ad for every weight-loss company, and every bit of media that screams "FAT = DEATH", you stigmatize fat kids, you stigmatize fat adults. By recycling junk science and half-truths, you're not going to magically make people healthy. You're making it clear who is acceptable and who isn't, who is worthy and who isn't, who belongs and who doesn't. Who is the enemy and who isn't. You are simply helping along a nation that already has an eating disorder spiral down the drain at an ever-quickening pace.

1 comment:

Meowser said...

When are they going to learn?

Demand for food is relatively impervious to price increases; they have to be MAJOR before they have an impact on purchases. (As they have for tobacco, which is WAY more expensive than it used to be.) You see people now cutting back on things like bread, veggies, and meat because the prices have, in many cases, DOUBLED for these items. Fifteen cents here or there, people will just pay it.

Especially for something like soda, which for many people is one of the few vices they allow themselves because it's still relatively cheap. If you have only so much money to spend on groceries, are you going to spend an extra 15 cents for Coke, or are you going to buy the stuff that's doubled in price over the last year, even if the latter is more nutritious? If anything, poorer people will now eat FEWER veggies and fruit, rather than give up soda. (Exactly what veggies can you buy for 15 cents, anyway? Or even a dollar and fifteen cents? Oh yeah, I can just picture all those teenaged boys saying, "Oh, yay, I'll eat a CARROT and drink water instead!")

And what are they going to do with the extra money? Put up more billboards telling fat people they suck? I don't mind them taxing any nonessential item if the money is going to be spent intelligently, but something tells me it's not.