The New York nanny state continues apace

posted at 9:42 am on December 16, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

We thought the ban on trans-fats in New York City restaurants was bad enough, but now New York Governor David Paterson has apparently decided to one-up Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Paterson has proposed an “obesity tax” — surcharges on foods that don’t meet with the approval of the Empire State Board of Regulating Your Food Choices.  It will start with sodas, but it won’t end there:

A can of Coke could soon cost New Yorkers more than just calories.

Gov. Paterson, as part of a $121 billion budget to be unveiled Tuesday, will propose an “obesity tax” of about 15% on nondiet drinks.

This means a Diet Coke might sell for a $1 – even as the same size bottle of its calorie-rich alter ego would go for $1.15.

New York blogger and centrist Jazz Shaw sees … well, red:

The worst part is that this isn’t going to have any significant impact on consumption or health in our state. It’s just a way to put a “health friendly” label on an obvious grab for more tax revenue in a state whose permanently dysfunctional government couldn’t balance a budget with the scales of Lady Justice herself. Better to just pass an across the board income tax hike and see if the voters will tolerate it when you next stand for election. Or, perhaps, exhibit the leadership required to whip the state legislature into some semblance of fiscal responsibility. But that would require political courage, wouldn’t it? So I suppose we’ll just get an “obesity tax” for an early Christmas present instead.

All of that is true, except for the consumption part.  New York will probably sell fewer Coca-Colas and Pepsis as a result of the tax, especially in vending machines.  People won’t switch to the diet versions, however (diet drinks are an acquired taste), nor will they buy milk or bottled water.  They just won’t buy anything at all.  The increase in tax revenues that Paterson uses to partially justify the new policy won’t appear, leaving New Yorkers thirsty and the government in no better position than it is now — but with more enforcement responsibilities than it had previously.

Of course, the nanny-state advocates love the idea:

Public health advocates welcomed news of the tax, saying it would help the fight against childhood obesity.

“Raising the price of this liquid candy will put children and teens on a path to a healthier diet,” said Elie Ward of the American Academy of Pediatrics of New York State.

Since when did that become the responsibility of government?  Parents have that responsibility.  If the AAP wants to get government involved in the beverage issue, they can have them pull the vending machines out of schools, which sell the sodas to the kids.  Parents would probably welcome that change anyway, and at least that’s a legitimate area for government action.

Those aren’t the only taxes Paterson plans to raise.  He wants to reinstitute the sales tax on clothing and shoes, while increasing welfare payments 30%, making it easier to qualify for Medicaid and expanding the Family Health Plus program.  The state of New York needs its own obesity controls instead of an obesity tax.  When Paterson proves that he can slim down government, maybe he’d have the credibility to act as a diet coach for his constituents.  Until then, have a Coke and a smile, and shut the hell up.

Update: Don Surber notes that West Virginia has had a soft-drink tax for 50 years:

West Virginia imposed one more than 50 years ago.

West Virginia is the second fattest state in the country.

Thank God, once again, for Mississippi.

WV’s tax applies to all soft drinks, because 50 years ago no one had started producing diet soft drinks.  Lawmakers worried about malnutrition, not obesity, and the funds were earmarked for the construction of a dentistry school — which has long been built, with the “usual Robert C Byrd thingies”, as Don puts it.


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PepsiCo is a New York company based in Purchase, NY.

Snapple is a New York company, now owned by Dr. Pepper.

Paterson is doing nothing but biting the hand that feeds state spending.

lawhawk on December 16, 2008 at 11:55 AM

Oh, and this “austerity budget” is still spending $1.2 billion more than last year. It’s just less than what Paterson had hoped to spend.

lawhawk on December 16, 2008 at 11:57 AM

OK, I’m against this proposal. Let me make that clear.

However, if there ever was a state where public health advocates had a good point in endorsing such an idea, it is New York. The amount of money spent on healthcare and the child obesity as a result of negligent parents is obscene. It does not justify this action and probably won’t even put a dent in the obesity problem but I am sympathetic to those public health officials who cannot get parents to understand how they are killing their kids by feeding them a never-ending load of crap.

grdred944 on December 16, 2008 at 12:00 PM

I hate to say it, but, if I didn’t know beforehand that Jazz Shaw was talking about New York, I’d think he was describing California’s dysfunctional government to a tee.

I weep.

irishspy on December 16, 2008 at 12:23 PM

The South loves its sweet iced tea and soft drinks. Taxing the things they love will not change their minds.

chunderroad on December 16, 2008 at 12:36 PM

The South loves its sweet iced tea and soft drinks. Taxing the things they love will not change their minds.

chunderroad on December 16, 2008 at 12:36 PM

New York isn’t in the South.

Esthier on December 16, 2008 at 12:42 PM

lawhawk on December 16, 2008 at 11:55 AM

I think, Pepsico and Snapple should announce they are moving their headquarters out of New York.
I would bet you would see a quick retreat on this tax…

right2bright on December 16, 2008 at 12:51 PM

Oh, and this “austerity budget” is still spending $1.2 billion more than last year. It’s just less than what Paterson had hoped to spend.

lawhawk on December 16, 2008 at 11:57 AM

By a liberals math, that is a reduction in spending…

right2bright on December 16, 2008 at 12:52 PM

Screw them. I just go across the border to CT to buy my soda anyway. NY is just getting too oppressive. It’d be nice if some Conservative Pols started to stand up in opposition to this crap.

Iblis on December 16, 2008 at 1:01 PM

The worst part is that this isn’t going to have any significant impact on consumption or health in our state.

No, that’s not the worst part, by far. That statement implies that if such a move were practical and beneficial in reducing consumption or improving health it might be pragmatically acceptable. But whether or not that’s the case is irrelevant. The worst part, by far, is that it violates the right to liberty, i.e. it restricts the free choice of a person to do with his or her own body what she chooses, where no one’s rights are violated.

‘Centrists’ need to decide whether or not they are for liberty. Moderates are not helpful when freedom is at stake.

JDPerren on December 16, 2008 at 1:09 PM

“The amount of money spent on healthcare and the child obesity as a result of negligent parents is obscene.”

As Walter Williams would say, that is not a problem of freedom, it’s the problem of socialism.

The government never should have involved itself in health care. From the moment the Democrat Congress and Lyndon Johnson rammed through the disastrous Medicare program in 1965, spending on health care has gone through the roof, precisely due to the problems of moral hazard and of third-party payers.

Now we will have the nanny state tell us how to live, when in a true free market, fatties who gorged themselves on soda and other crap, would feel the true shock themselves through increased doctor bills.

Idiots who don’t change their oil or maintain their transmission learn from their mistakes. People who live terrible lifestyles get the rest of us to pay for it, and national nanny Democrats aren’t going to change that.

NoDonkey on December 16, 2008 at 1:20 PM

NoDonkey,

Bravo.

JDPerren on December 16, 2008 at 1:37 PM

NoDonkey on December 16, 2008 at 1:20 PM

Perfect, my friend!

omnipotent on December 16, 2008 at 1:51 PM

Thanks JD/omnipotent, just trying to give back to the community.

NoDonkey on December 16, 2008 at 2:10 PM

NoDonkey on December 16, 2008 at 1:20 PM

Idiots who don’t change their oil or maintain their transmission learn from their mistakes

Or in this case, they allow their children to die young and hopefully don’t create too many more ‘mistakes’.

grdred944 on December 16, 2008 at 2:28 PM

Perhaps, but by perpetual handholding of adults and by creating the expectation that it’s the state’s job to raise children, the state creates children raising children.

If a parent isn’t up to the job, there’s no chance some bureaucrat with a case load of 200 is going to step in and pinch hit.

NoDonkey on December 16, 2008 at 2:34 PM

This is so obviously a “sin tax” like that on Liquor or Cigarettes. It’s just an easier way to get revenue than by raising the tax rate. Because it picks on one segment of the population (in this case sugar-drinkers) it is easier to pass.

Nothing new here, folks.

Viscount_Bolingbroke on December 16, 2008 at 2:40 PM

Maybe if New York banned fat trannies instead they’d remove a few actual public health problems.

BKennedy on December 16, 2008 at 2:49 PM

“This is so obviously a “sin tax” like that on Liquor or Cigarettes.”

True, so perhaps we can start taxing the kickbacks Democrats receive and the money they outright steal from the treasury. I’m certain that’s a sin too.

Since we can’t stop it, we might as well tax Democrat corruption.

NoDonkey on December 16, 2008 at 3:03 PM

…leaving New Yorkers thirsty…

That’s a brilliant argument. Because surely their non-drinking of coke will = their non-drinking of water. I hope you were joking because that argument is something a third grader would say.

Until then, have a Coke and a smile, and shut the hell up.

Don’t you live Montana?

PresidenToor on December 16, 2008 at 3:26 PM

What other liberties are you willing to give up, so long as the majority approves?

MarkTheGreat on December 16, 2008 at 11:24 AM

Dude, are you even reading what you right? A publicly and legitimately enacted tax as and infringement on rights? This kind of low threshold is how abortion and gay marriage became “rights.”
It may or may not be bright, but it is in no way an infringement on your rights.

Count to 10 on December 16, 2008 at 3:50 PM

We don’t have a right to be free of stupid taxes imposed by corrupt and incompetent jackass political hacks elected by complete idiot voters?

Dammit. The Founding Fathers really dropped the ball on this one.

NoDonkey on December 16, 2008 at 3:58 PM

We don’t have a right to be free of stupid taxes imposed by corrupt and incompetent jackass political hacks elected by complete idiot voters?

Dammit. The Founding Fathers really dropped the ball on this one.

NoDonkey on December 16, 2008 at 3:58 PM

Hey, its “taxation with representation.”

Count to 10 on December 16, 2008 at 4:10 PM

More of that Joe Biden patriotism. I wish I could make like Kurt Russell and escape from New York!

ThePrez on December 16, 2008 at 4:12 PM

“Hey, its “taxation with representation.””

My Congressman is Jim Moran.

I have deep reservations regarding whether the Founding Fathers had the likes of him in mind.

If they did, why bother with the American Revolution? Why not just stay a British Colony and be “represented” by some inbred, arrogant, corrupt, incompetent moron? Like Jim Moran?

NoDonkey on December 16, 2008 at 4:15 PM

OK, I’m against this proposal. Let me make that clear.

However, if there ever was a state where public health advocates had a good point in endorsing such an idea, it is New York. The amount of money spent on healthcare and the child obesity as a result of negligent parents is obscene. It does not justify this action and probably won’t even put a dent in the obesity problem but I am sympathetic to those public health officials who cannot get parents to understand how they are killing their kids by feeding them a never-ending load of crap.

grdred944 on December 16, 2008 at 12:00 PM

um, I think Ft. Worth might challenge ya there, grd944, on money spent on healthcare (citizens, legals, and “guest workers”)

& talk about obesity problems. Dude, have you ever been to Ft. Worth? It’s like the #3 fattest city in the US – heck, my brother is thin there and about 80 lbs. overweight in Georgia.

It’s good to see you are against the government deciding for us “little people” what for, and how much coin that we need to turn over to the taxman just cause he’s not digging what we are into. Mkay?

btw: imagine if the media in a free society all decided to pull the wool over 52% of the readers of the major and minor archaic “news/opinion” publications, & the broadcast viewers eyes and/or the ears of national public radio listeners; while totally relying on a guy who has no honor among thieves for two years on the campaign trail just because they didn’t want a republican – especially one who has as his VP a woman who eats caribou. ewwww…the little people.

Branch Rickey on December 16, 2008 at 4:17 PM

The South loves its sweet iced tea and soft drinks. Taxing the things they love will not change their minds.

chunderroad on December 16, 2008 at 12:36 PM

That and a few Coca-Cola employees and stockholders in Jo Ja ;^D

Branch Rickey on December 16, 2008 at 4:19 PM

$1 or $1.15 for a can of soda doesn’t seem so bad when you’ve been to a theme park selling one liter bottles for $4.

corona on December 16, 2008 at 4:24 PM

Dude, are you even reading what you right? A publicly and legitimately enacted tax as and infringement on rights?

Count to 10 on December 16, 2008 at 3:50 PM

As the SC said, the power to tax is the power to destroy.

MarkTheGreat on December 16, 2008 at 4:24 PM

We don’t have a right to be free of stupid taxes imposed by corrupt and incompetent jackass political hacks elected by complete idiot voters?

Dammit. The Founding Fathers really dropped the ball on this one.

NoDonkey on December 16, 2008 at 3:58 PM

I would have to say until the election of “The One and Only…The One….BAAARACCCK Obama”

George III would have seen it different then you. wink
Silante’ on your posts, btw.

Branch Rickey on December 16, 2008 at 4:28 PM

As the SC said, the power to tax is the power to destroy.

MarkTheGreat on December 16, 2008 at 4:24 PM

A bit of an overreach on their part. Granted, the tax in question then was intended to destroy.
But, if you extend that argument, it is hard to see what you could tax.

Count to 10 on December 16, 2008 at 5:16 PM

Will they charge the obesity tax on Indian Reservations? Should I pick up a case of two liter bottles when I fill up with untaxed gasoline at Smokin Joe’s Smoke Shop and then push it at marked up prices to skinny street urchins? What about internet sales of soda pop? Will people start smuggling untaxed coca cola from other states? Will a new cottage industry of bootlegging home brewed soda pop crop up? Will the mafia muscle in on the new bootleg industry? Will they buy off crooked politicians with untaxed candy bars and soda? What a sweet deal. I hear “Ensure” has lots of calories, will we tax the liquid grammy chow drinks? Start the calls for Elliot Ness.

KW64 on December 16, 2008 at 5:18 PM

KW64 on December 16, 2008 at 5:18 PM

Do people sneak soda cans into movie theaters?

Count to 10 on December 16, 2008 at 5:31 PM

Esthier wrote:

Obviously you’re bitter that smokers have become near outcasts in society

Oh crap. Is that what was obvious to you? I don’t bother myself with people who spend their time making outcasts of people they disagree with, and I don’t give a flying fuck what other people think of any of my personal choices. That’s why I belong to the party of Individualism.

And then:

If you’ve been smoking for years, then surely each morning when you’re coughing up a lung it’s obvious to you how much harm you’ve done to your body.

Ah, you argue preemptive lung cancer, then you reject the idea of preemptive obesity. Nah, you can’t have it both ways. You fully bought into the idea that anyone who smokes is already representative of the worst case scenario, regardless of their present reality, so you can feel free to tsk tsk complete strangers, whose health, lifestyles, and choices are none of your business.

Wanna know what I consider nasty? Sticky soda bottles, saved up to return to the store. Sticky nasty puddles of spilled soda under my sofa that I don’t find until they’re hardened and gross. Oh, and that nasty soda belch. And rotting teeth. Yeah, all sugary soda drinkers are fat people with rotted teeth in the making, belching and attracting flies. Oooh, what a lovely picture.

In case you still haven’t figured this out, I’m painting a picture of the future, and even after watching the years of anti-smoking indoctrination as it played out, you still can’t see it coming.

Do I care whether or not you like my nasty habit? No. Do I care that you defend taxing me to the eyeballs because you don’t like it? Hell yes. Are there no principles left?

ral514 on December 16, 2008 at 6:01 PM

Count to 10 on December 16, 2008 at 5:31 PM

You betcha. A group I was in took a two liter bottle and four cups in one time years ago.

Just thinking, if you smuggled an untaxed soda into a theater and did not recycle the container, would that count as a three time loser. Good thing we do not have a “three strikes your in” law.

KW64 on December 16, 2008 at 6:09 PM

KW64 on December 16, 2008 at 6:09 PM

On a related note, I wonder if there is a tag for rhetorical questions.

Count to 10 on December 16, 2008 at 6:14 PM

“Do people sneak soda cans into movie theaters?”

If not, they’re suckers.

I’ve snuck fifths of alcohol into pro football stadiums all over the country. I’m not paying $7.00 for a watery, warm beer.

We’re Americans. When we get ripped off, we do things the American way, by going around the overchargers.

NoDonkey on December 16, 2008 at 6:14 PM

Do they realize the diet drinks are linked to an increased risk of obesity. Even though they do not directly contribute calories, artificial sweeteners are thought to stimulate insulin release from the pancreas. Insulin is one of the most anabolic hormones, perhaps as anabolic as testosterone derivatives.

http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20050613/drink-more-diet-soda-gain-more-weight

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080210183902.htm

These people are morons.

Fundamental Fred on December 16, 2008 at 6:21 PM

I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.

Johan Klaus on December 16, 2008 at 6:41 PM

“I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

Let me help YOU out then. Which way did you come in?

NoDonkey on December 16, 2008 at 7:05 PM

I just love this, all those creatures who stumped for health inspired cigarette, beer, and booze taxes created a monster that has turned around and bit them in the arse. I hope snack foods are next. Tax away. Pile it on – heavy.

I suggest a dollar for every gram of carbohydrates. Fat people can pay for their added impact on health care, just like the mythological impact caused by smokers. I pull no punches; do not use nice words like “heavy” “everweight” or “stocky.” Eric Cartman is not big boned, he’s fat.

Y’all know coffee has no calories or carbohaydrates.

Pelayo on December 16, 2008 at 9:02 PM

Gee, wonder if this clown Governor is going to impose a tax on riding in the Cash Cab.

pilamaye on December 16, 2008 at 9:10 PM

“I suggest a dollar for every gram of carbohydrates.”

If that includes beer, I say “Viva la revolution!”

NoDonkey on December 16, 2008 at 10:24 PM

Sure you have a right to get fat and gross, but you don’t have a right to do it cheaply. It’s not a matter of “freedom” for fatty food to be cheaper than healthier options. There are people with actually legitemate claims of discrimination in this world.

DeathToMediaHacks on December 16, 2008 at 10:01 AM

Why did this show up on my monitor? And just exactly, what in the hell does it mean?

anuts on December 17, 2008 at 6:33 AM

What a lovely package for all you New Yorkers and what about cutting back on spending? This is unreal and I suppose my state of NJ Governor Corrupt Corzine will come up with something similiar. There is no limit to how much they’ll take from us. Man, I hope I can sell my house this Spring – can’t wait to move to New Hampshire!! UGH!

corvettelady on December 17, 2008 at 8:00 AM

Still one of my favorite quotes from an journalist in India, when asked what was exciting about going to America:
“I always wanted to go to a country where the poor people were fat”.

right2bright on December 17, 2008 at 9:02 AM

Is it just me or has anyone else noted that wherever a large portion of the populace and the “leaders” are stupid far left, wack job Liberals they impose moronic taxes on the sheepel and run up huge budget defecits for welfare and no one can understand why they are broke, have high crime rates, crappy schools and all the PCorrect garbage that comes from Liberalisiam. Look at the vast majority of broke States that need “bailouts”, they are LIBERAL DEMOCRATE controlled. Red States are mostly in the black. When will the morons of America, the ones that voted for the Messiah, understand that they have high taxes and the other problems BECASUE they keep voting the same idiots into office?

Never is my guess… Being from Texas is such a blessing although it’s changing also due to the massive Illegal Mexicans issue. But for now, still in the black and no State income tax, while NY, NJ and so many other Liberal enlightened States can’t pay thier bills… Hummmmmm…

Mark Garnett on December 17, 2008 at 9:14 AM

Since when did that become the responsibility of government?

Since the government stopped governing and got into the health care business. The government that pays your way owns you all the way.

abcurtis on December 17, 2008 at 9:30 AM

“The amount of money spent on healthcare and the child obesity as a result of negligent parents is obscene.”

Then it’s time for the government, i.e. the taxpayers – to get out of the health care business and let the negligent parents pay for and take responsibility for their own negligence.

abcurtis on December 17, 2008 at 9:34 AM

The government never should have involved itself in health care. From the moment the Democrat Congress and Lyndon Johnson rammed through the disastrous Medicare program in 1965, spending on health care has gone through the roof, precisely due to the problems of moral hazard and of third-party payers.

And the citizens of this country are more unhealthy then they have been since the 20′s and 30′s. When taxpayers pay, citizens are free of personal responsibility.

abcurtis on December 17, 2008 at 9:37 AM

Fat people can pay for their added impact on health care, just like the mythological impact caused by smokers. I pull no punches; do not use nice words like “heavy” “everweight” or “stocky.” Eric Cartman is not big boned, he’s fat.

Y’all know coffee has no calories or carbohaydrates.

Pelayo on December 16, 2008 at 9:02 PM

Pelayo – this fat man is more than willing to pay for his own health care – I ask not for you or anybody else to pay it. It’s your liberal politicians that created this health care monster, now deal with it.

abcurtis on December 17, 2008 at 9:43 AM

carbohaydrates

And it’s “carbohydrates.” You are a much better person for coming on this form today because you’ve learned something.

abcurtis on December 17, 2008 at 9:45 AM

And another thing, Pelayo – insult me and people like me all you want – we’ve heard it all. We just consider the source and ignore it. Ignorance is its own malady.

abcurtis on December 17, 2008 at 9:46 AM

Dude, are you even reading what you right? A publicly and legitimately enacted tax as and infringement on rights?

So, if the elected government wanted our tax rates to be 80% that’s not an infringement of our rights? Do you understand the concept of rights?

Ann NY on December 17, 2008 at 12:15 PM

New York isn’t in the South.

Esthier on December 16, 2008 at 12:42 PM

Thank God…

Mark Garnett on December 17, 2008 at 12:23 PM

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