Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is a Soda Tax Necessary?

The idea of a soda tax has been gaining some clout in 2010. Proponents of this kind of tax say that they can lower demand for the sugary products with the tax and increase the overall health of the populace. It sure sounds like a good deal, but is it really? Do we need to government to, through a sin tax, guide us towards better eating habits? The correct answer is no, we don't.

Obesity is the result of choices (and to a degree genetics, but we're going to leave that part out for now) that are made by the individuals. If becoming obese is a personal decision, then so is losing that weight. It is not the job, nor the right of the government to influence social behavior through taxes. It should be up to the individual to make the decision not to buy unhealthy foods.

Government is here to protect me, not make me thin and healthy. I can do that on my own.

What about the consequences of this tax? If this tax truly lowers the demand for soda, what's going to happen to the soda industry? What will happen undoubtedly is that they will lose income, be faced with budget shortfall, and try to cut costs. You want to know what the number one method of cutting costs is for most businesses? Cut jobs.

Just because we can't absolutely predict consequences like that doesn't mean they should be ignored. Is the violation of our personal liberty (meaning, the ability to make our own choices and face our own consequences) and the potential job loss worth it? How about we let the market and those who do want to eat healthy make those choices on their own, so that maybe in the future the market will be producing more and more healthy foods. It's already happening now, just look at all of the kinds of "healthy" foods that you can buy.

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