Sin For Ye, “Pause That Refreshes” For We

posted at 4:05 pm on July 30, 2009 by Mitch Berg

The Obama Administration is borrowing a key tenet of his “Heathcare” strategy from an infamous Minnesota initiative from the 1990′s; “Soak the Addicts Who Don’t Have Clout”.

In 1998, the State of Minnesota and Blue Cross sued and won $6.1 Billion from “Big Tobacco” – which was, of course, passed on to “Big Tobacco’s” customers, aka “smokers”.

But that was safe, because smoking – and smokers – were indefensible.  So nobody defended them.

Of course, the to make money, the strategy depends on having a boundless supply of people with declasse addictions and problems – smokers, drinkers, and – as the LA Times informs us with breathless excitement – the overweight and obese.

When historians look back to identify the pivotal moments in the nation’s struggle against obesity, they might point to the current period as the moment when those who influenced opinion and made public policy decided it was time to take the gloves off.As evidence of this new “get-tough” strategy on obesity, they may well cite a study released today by the Urban Institute titled “Reducing Obesity: Policy Strategies From the Tobacco Wars.”In the debate over healthcare reform, the added cost of caring for patients with obesity-related diseases has become a common refrain: most recent is the cost-of-obesity study, also released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It finds that as obesity rates increased from 18.3% of Americans in 1998 to 25% in 2006, the cost of providing treatment for those patients’ weight-driven problems increased healthcare spending by $40 billion a year.If you happen to be the 1-in-3 Americans who is neither obese nor overweight (and, thus, considered at risk of becoming obese), you might well conclude that the habits of the remaining two-thirds of Americans are costing you, big time. U.S. life expectancies are expected to slide backward, after years of marching upward. (But that’s their statistical problem: Yours is how to make them stop costing you all that extra money because they are presumably making poor choices in their food consumption.)

To put it more accurately – “sin taxes” involve 51% of the people agreeing the habits, vices and infirmities of the other 49% are worth scourging and tapping for whatever revenue can be drained.The 2/3 of the nation that doesn’t smoke has voted to stick it to the other 1/3 of the people.  And now – as conservatives have been predicting for a decade – they’re sticking up the “overweight”.Because it’s really about the money. Because Hope and Change isn’t free:

[Taxes raised on "unhealthy" foods] would pay for a lot of healthcare reform, which some have estimated will cost as much as $1 trillion to implement over the next ten years.And here’s the payoff: Conservatively estimated, a 10% tax levied on foods that would be defined as “less healthy” by a national standard adopted recently in Great Britain could yield $240 billion in its first five years and $522 billion over 10 years of implementation — if it were to begin in October 2010. If lawmakers instituted a program of tax subsidies to encourage the purchase of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, the added revenue would still be $356 billion over 10 years.

In other words, government would decide which foods to “punish”, and which to “reward”. Pop – soda – being un-PC at the moment – will be taxed.  But coffee?  Being the beverage of choice of those bringing us the Hope and Change? Any guesses?:

Let’s be honest: the more affluent Americans will not feel the effect of a soda tax, nor that of the inevitable tax on fast-food purchases from McDonald’s, Burger King or Taco Bell…But let’s play along with the Ivory Tower bigwigs and self-appointed health gurus who are advocating the tax on “sugary” drinks as a means of off-setting the enormous costs of President Obama’s back-breaking health care initiative, as well as combating bad habits. Why stop at soda? How about a tax on every calorie-laden coffee drink served at Starbucks and its competitors? After all, a vanilla bean frappuccino with whipped cream is more than 500 calories, a beverage that health researcher Mike Adams calls “dessert in a cup.” Throw in a scone or brownie with one of those Starbucks “desserts” and a consumer is approaching, at mid-morning, the daily recommended calorie intake.

No knock against Starbucks, which I patronize, but it’s fairly inconceivable that either Congress or nutritionists would classify that chain’s offerings with the low-hanging taxable fruit of Pepsi and Coke. Taking this argument further: why aren’t the revenue seekers proposing slapping a “sin” tax on the following items that aren’t at all healthy (whether organic or not): butter, cream, eggs, bacon, corned beef, mayo, Godiva and Lindt chocolates, foie gras, triple-cream Brie, the entire dessert tray at a ritzy French restaurant, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, fried clams, squid, shrimp and oysters, entire menus at Chinese restaurants (both cheap and pricey) and fresh-squeezed orange juice? And maybe a tax credit ought to be awarded to those consumers who purchase olive oil instead of butter.

To add insult to injury; not only are “sin taxes” a way for the majority to punish the minority – they don’t work, either as revenue-generators or as societal behavior modification:

The consequences of the sin tax are often the very opposite of those intended by its designers. Rather than increasing revenue, the sin tax can reduce it. Rather than discouraging what are regarded as morally questionable behaviors, the sin tax can make them more appealing. Rather than reducing what are perceived to be internal costs of the sin, the sin tax can increase them and expand them to society as a whole.

The evidence that sin taxes are a failed policy approach is incontrovertible. According to a new report from the Mercatus Center, “taxes on sugar-sweetened soft drinks do not necessarily advance the overall public interest, may be regressive in nature, and hardly ever work as intended.” The bottom line, say researchers Richard Williams and Katelyn Christ, is that a convincing body of evidence tells us that boosting food and drink prices “is not sufficient to make ‘fat taxes’ a viable tool to lower obesity.” That’s because soft drinks are really a small portion of most people’s diets.

In short – sin taxes are a flop.  They drive down revenue, sap economic and personal freedom, and yet don’t affect behavior.  What they are is a handy way for those that are in charge in society to tell those that are not “there are gonna be some changes, here”.

Crossposted at Shot In The Dark and True North

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

First they came for the alcohol and I didn’t say anything because I didn’t drink alcohol.

Next, they came for the smokers and I didn’t say anything because I didn’t smoke.

Then they came for the Coca-Cola drinkings and there was no one left to say anything to prevent my taxes from going up…

Agent of the Cross on July 30, 2009 at 4:12 PM

To put it more accurately – “sin taxes” involve 51% of the people agreeing the habits, vices and infirmities of the other 49% are worth scourging and tapping for whatever revenue can be drained.

Not even close. You don’t need a majority to do this. All you need is a nasty minority (perhaps as little as 10%) that is very vocal and able to convince the majority that they are terrible people for their habits. Don’t try and paint these fascist tactics as some sort of majority rule (if somewhat tyrannical), they are not. This is the rule of the nasty mobs that can cow the majority into submission. We see this all the time.

The fact that people have allowed these unrepentant fascists to sh!t all over private property rights in the pursuit of their moral superiority is the worst part of all. It isn’t the cigarette taxes that are so bad (though they are) but the restrictions on private property rights that are absolutely unconscionable. And they are doing the same thing with their global warming insanity.

progressoverpeace on July 30, 2009 at 4:14 PM

From personal experience only, liberals are far fatter than conservatives.

The left is going to go wild on this.

jukin on July 30, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Having said the above, when will there be poor fat people subsidizes fro the super skinny?

jukin on July 30, 2009 at 4:16 PM

And the death spiral will continue until the economy completely tanks.

Maine proved this two years ago when it raised tobacco taxes. The state legislature expected to reap an extra 92 million dollars. What happened? A large number of smokers either gave up the habit, cut back, or went to New Hampshire where the taxes were lower. As a result, Maine only collected some 78 millions in taxes.

HOWEVER, the democrats who control both houses and the governor’s office, has already spent the 92 million, and so ended up with the 14 million dollar shortfall. The solution? Higher taxes on tobacco!

Rather than increase taxes, you would think that these idiot legislators (but I repeat myself) would understand that the key is to REDUCE taxes. Every merchant knows that reducing prices will drive up sales, and the small amount of profit lost in reducing the price will be more than made up for in volume sales.

Lower the taxes, and people will spend more and tax revenues will increase.

AW1 Tim on July 30, 2009 at 4:16 PM

I’d drink more wine, if it weren’t so darned expensive.
There are hundreds of studies that indicate a glass of red wine with dinner is good for the heart.

MarkTheGreat on July 30, 2009 at 4:17 PM

The whole purpose of govt is to take money from the minority, in order to give it to the majority.

MarkTheGreat on July 30, 2009 at 4:18 PM

Ok, I’ll play the tax those with make poor choices game. Homosexual behavoir has cost the United States healthcare system billions of dollars over the past three decades. That money could have been spent on providing better healthcare for the children. I would never dream of banning gay sex but they should be taxed for their bad behavior. Perhaps it should be levied on condoms, gay bars and bathhouses. Gay men should be forces to pay for the burden they place on the healthcare system.

jerryofva on July 30, 2009 at 4:19 PM

what I love about the Democrats is their creativity to solve problems. They are excellent at thinking up new ways to tackle issues! /sarc

search4truth on July 30, 2009 at 4:20 PM

When historians look back to identify the pivotal moments in the nation’s struggle against obesity

You have got to be she-ite’ing me. A WAR ON OBESITY?

These people really are idiots. Here in Louisiana – we’re one of the fattest-assed States in the Union – and a little proud of that fact. These elitists really think they are going to make us give up our gumbo and etoffe?

They think they’re gonna TAX our chicken-fried steak and the Bloomin’ Onions we love so much from Outback?

They can think again.

We got guns down here.

HondaV65 on July 30, 2009 at 4:21 PM

I’d drink more wine, if it weren’t so darned expensive.
There are hundreds of studies that indicate a glass of red wine with dinner is good for the heart.

MarkTheGreat on July 30, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Likewise, my daily intake of cola is an indicator of the continued good health of people around me. If I have my Coke and a smile, people don’t get their heads bitten off.

teke184 on July 30, 2009 at 4:21 PM

Another regressive tax from the party of “the little guy?” Quelle surprise.

The House is voting on the so-called “Food Safety Bill” now (much fear-mongering, wailing, and rending of garments on the House floor) which one R called a food tax (another regressive tax), and also said it will harm the small farmer and benefit of Big Ag (via regulatory capture).

Rae on July 30, 2009 at 4:21 PM

People who eat themselves to 300lbs are absolutely of more cost to service providers (both public and otherwise) than responsible people. Do we ignore that entirely?

ernesto on July 30, 2009 at 4:24 PM

#1 Use Body Mass Index (BMI) as a factor when calculating annual income tax. Don’t tax products, tax results.
#2 Allow gym memberships and personal training to be fully deductible. This might encourage a few people to actually join up and start working out.

redshirt on July 30, 2009 at 4:25 PM

Tax dorks with big ears for soaking up too much sound.

RandyChandler on July 30, 2009 at 4:25 PM

Agent of the Cross on July 30, 2009 at 4:12 PM

Ding. We live in a free country, where within a year, you may:
be taxed for your beverage choice
be outlawed from certain light bulb choices
be barred from using home heating/cooling past a certain level
have your salary changed by the government
have your business closed by the government
have a union established in your business by the government
have your health care decisions rejected by the government

hawksruleva on July 30, 2009 at 4:27 PM

Do we ignore that entirely?

These people already pay more for health insurance.

Mitch_Berg on July 30, 2009 at 4:28 PM

I am sorry, but I think this all stinks. I really don’t care about a coke tax. For some reason the only acceptable prejudice left is against overweight people. I find that to be totally offensive.

TXMomof3 on July 30, 2009 at 4:28 PM

People who eat themselves to 300lbs are absolutely of more cost to service providers (both public and otherwise) than responsible people. Do we ignore that entirely?

ernesto on July 30, 2009 at 4:24 PM

If they have their own health insurance, they’re not. See how easy the free market thing is?

hawksruleva on July 30, 2009 at 4:28 PM

I guess we should all start growing tobacco and coffee plants, sugar beets, grapes for wine, etc. in our own gardens on our own property.

infidel4life on July 30, 2009 at 4:29 PM

No mention of the associated job losses connected with those industries…

TinMan13 on July 30, 2009 at 4:29 PM

Wow! A whole $40Billion dollars? That’s like, what….? $400 a year per family/household because only one third of the country is healthy? Doesn’t sound like such a big deal to me. After all, to pay for the Obamacare it will cost me an additional $14,000 a year in just the added deficit and immediate borrowed funds and taxes to keep the government rolling along.

Sounds like getting your kids fat and paying for their extra doctor bills is worth it, from a fiscal perspective.

As if $40Billion is a lot of money when you are trying to stop and additional 1.4 Trillion from being loaded on our backs. And while I agree it is a lot of money. Just not when compared with the medicine to fix it. And being fat isn’t fatal, folks.

Subsunk

Subsunk on July 30, 2009 at 4:30 PM

BMI is bullshit. It doesn’t account for various body types and muscle. It’s crap and the scientists know it.

roux on July 30, 2009 at 4:30 PM

The only way tax revenue goes down is if less people buy a thing. If their behavior doesn’t change, tax revenue goes up. If they do reduce consumption of the sinful item, then the problem caused by the sinful behavior goes down.

I can see where, if there is an alernative such as black market or neighboring area not under the sin tax, you could easily loose tax revenue. But a national program would leave most of us with nowhere to go, unless a black market evolved.

I’ve pondered this a bit because my wife and I quit smoking before the first ciggie tax kicked in. I hate to give Obama credit for motivating me to quit smoking, but it was either that or volunteer for a huge increase in taxes. I’d rather him have me as a statistic he can point to than a thousand dollars a year he can spend on some feckless whino or award in a no-compete contract to someone who aggregated campaign contributions for him.

Immolate on July 30, 2009 at 4:31 PM

#1 Use Body Mass Index (BMI) as a factor when calculating annual income tax. Don’t tax products, tax results.
#2 Allow gym memberships and personal training to be fully deductible. This might encourage a few people to actually join up and start working out.

redshirt on July 30, 2009 at 4:25 PM

Actual case. My friend drinks only Diet Coke. I drink Mt. Dew. Our diets are otherwise close, he actually takes in fewer calories than I do. He weighs 60 lbs more than me.

Why should he be punished or I rewarded, for our metabolisms? Like most government plans, this one fails to take into account the breadth of human diversity.

hawksruleva on July 30, 2009 at 4:31 PM

Hmmmm…maybe I should switch sides and support food sin taxes. Then, I could make a fortune with my twinkie-ding dong speakeasy!

batter on July 30, 2009 at 4:32 PM

People who eat themselves to 300lbs are absolutely of more cost to service providers (both public and otherwise) than responsible people. Do we ignore that entirely?

ernesto on July 30, 2009 at 4:24 PM

Why the hell should the government be able to tell someone they are eating too much? If a person isn’t on food stamps and has a job, the government needs to stay the hell out of their life. The government is worried about people being overweight and costing more money? What about all the tax dollars that go to places like San Francisco for gay AIDS patients? Didn’t their personal health choices lead to more cost to the tax payers? Why should we have to pay for that?

TXMomof3 on July 30, 2009 at 4:32 PM

redshirt on July 30, 2009 at 4:25 PM
—–
Umm, you *do* know that most BMI calculations are subject to quite a bit of error, based on the training and equipment used, right?

Mew

acat on July 30, 2009 at 4:32 PM

TXMomof3 on July 30, 2009 at 4:32 PM
—–
So, it’d be okay to tell fatties to eat less and walk more if they’re on food stamps?

Mew

acat on July 30, 2009 at 4:33 PM

Shrimp and oysters? You gotta be kidding? Since when is seafood unhealthy, eaten in moderation? I also eat eggs and bacon and butter and lots of other things that they keep telling me are unhealthy. I don’t have them every day, but geez, I am in fairly good health and not fat, so leave me alone!

I would rather die at age 90 and enjoy my life, than eat like a bird and live five more years. Besides, my sister – in – law is a vegetarian, and she’s chubby, and I am not, so what does that tell you? Government, get out of my life!

Susanboo on July 30, 2009 at 4:34 PM

People who eat themselves to 300lbs are absolutely of more cost to service providers (both public and otherwise) than responsible people. Do we ignore that entirely?

ernesto on July 30, 2009 at 4:24 PM

What about motorcycle riders? What about rock climbers? What about sun bathers? What about those who live in cities, with all that bad air? What about …

People need to buy their own insurance, or, at best, be treated at the most minimal level possible (as the floor cannot be anything anyone wants to live at). After that, they can do what they want.

BTW, anxiety and stress kill more people and cause more problems than anything. Leftists do nothing but make people anxious, pissed off, and stressed. If we got rid of the moron leftists, people would be much healthier, not having to listen to their idiotic whining and moronic tales of the Earth burning to a crisp because of a gas that plants thrive off of and would die without.

progressoverpeace on July 30, 2009 at 4:35 PM

TXMomof3 on July 30, 2009 at 4:32 PM
—–
So, it’d be okay to tell fatties to eat less and walk more if they’re on food stamps?

Mew

acat on July 30, 2009 at 4:33 PM

What I am saying is that the government needs to stop trying to control everyone’s lives. How many fat a#$es are sitting up there in congress?

TXMomof3 on July 30, 2009 at 4:35 PM

People who eat themselves to 300lbs are absolutely of more cost to service providers (both public and otherwise) than responsible people. Do we ignore that entirely?

ernesto on July 30, 2009 at 4:24 PM

Yes in a free country we ignore that entirely. It’s none of your damn business. Let private insurance charge a premium for the extra risk if they wish, but you don’t get to tell someone else how to live.

DFCtomm on July 30, 2009 at 4:36 PM

The only way tax revenue goes down is if less people buy a thing. If their behavior doesn’t change, tax revenue goes up. If they do reduce consumption of the sinful item, then the problem caused by the sinful behavior goes down.

Immolate on July 30, 2009 at 4:31 PM

Umm, no. The real world is more complicated than a government plan. Here’s one for you. Let’s outlaw alcohol. That means no alcohol is available, right? WRONG!

For food, it’s even easier to skirt the law, and the tax. Are we placing a sin tax on flour? Soda water? Flavorings? If not, then people can MAKE THEIR OWN FOOD. They could even make food for their friends. Why, they could even GROW THEIR OWN FOOD. Fruits, especially, would require a government crackdown, as they’re very high in sugar.

In all cases, people will find a way to skirt government attempts to modify their behavior, often turning to worse alternatives.

hawksruleva on July 30, 2009 at 4:36 PM

#1 Use Body. Mass Index (BMI) as a factor when calculating annual income tax. Don’t tax products, tax results.
#2 Allow gym memberships and personal training to be fully deductible. This might encourage a few people to actually join up and start working out.

redshirt on July 30, 2009 at 4:25 PM

#1 I bench 350, ride my bike 50+ miles/week, 32 inch waist, and have 10% body fat at 49. The BMI charts tell me I’m morbidly obese. Those are complete bullshit put on by skinny limp dicked metrosexuals. Any athlete blows them out of the water.

#2 Good Idea but i don’t think ig Exercise gives enough to the DNC.

jukin on July 30, 2009 at 4:38 PM

In short – sin taxes are a flop.

Yeah, but their intentions are good…kind of like not allowing them “darkies” to choose the school to send their kids too, they just don’t know better.

right2bright on July 30, 2009 at 4:38 PM

People who eat themselves to 300lbs are absolutely of more cost to service providers (both public and otherwise) than responsible people. Do we ignore that entirely?

ernesto on July 30, 2009 at 4:24 PM

1) Lifetime costs are lower, since they die younger, so fatty foods should be subsidized, not taxed.
2) This is an argument against public subsidized health care, not in favor of fat taxes. (Why not ban everything that might cause injury?)
3) The fact that you get excited at yet another way to tell others how to live their lives, does not surprise me.

MarkTheGreat on July 30, 2009 at 4:38 PM

I guess we don’t care about the thousands of jobs that could be lost by Frito Lay and Pepsi employees, huh? They are so freaking stupid!!! We DO NOT need the nanny state telling us what to eat, how much, and wiping our a#$.

TXMomof3 on July 30, 2009 at 4:38 PM

I can see where, if there is an alernative such as black market or neighboring area not under the sin tax, you could easily loose tax revenue. But a national program would leave most of us with nowhere to go, unless a black market evolved.

You state the “unless” as if it’s an unlikely outlier.

Remember what happened when they banned alcohol, for the nation’s own good.

Mitch_Berg on July 30, 2009 at 4:40 PM

Liberals are determined to bring a return of The Stamp Act. It will turn out as it did last time, only bloodier and uglier.

progressoverpeace on July 30, 2009 at 4:40 PM

I am sorry, but I think this all stinks. I really don’t care about a coke tax. For some reason the only acceptable prejudice left is against overweight people. I find that to be totally offensive.

TXMomof3 on July 30, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Au contraire, it is quite acceptable to be prejudiced against:
1) Men
2) Whites
3) Southernors
4) Christians

MarkTheGreat on July 30, 2009 at 4:41 PM

The big problem with a so called fat tax is that the .gov will again be picking winners and losers. Take for instance butter. Something like 50 years ago some yahoos in Washington decided based on junk science that butter was bad and margarine was good. Ever since they have been trying to prove that butter kills and have been failing every time but guess what? Now we now that the fat in margarine, hydrogenated vegetable oil i.e. trans fats are in fact so bad for you that they now recommend eating zero trans fats.

RobD on July 30, 2009 at 4:42 PM

DFCtomm on July 30, 2009 at 4:36 PM
—–
So, we should scrap food stamps?

Mew

acat on July 30, 2009 at 4:42 PM

Rae on July 30, 2009 at 4:21 PM

That will go over like a lead balloon where I live. Most of us have greenhouses and grow much of our own food. Many also keep chickens and cows for eggs and meat.

I grew up on stories about my bootlegger grandpappy. Some of the stories were about government agents that went missing from raiding bootleggers. Me thinks the same will happen in this area when the government agents try to cause the people here trouble. Lots of backhoes (to bury the mess) and enough guns to arm half of South America.

chemman on July 30, 2009 at 4:42 PM

Au contraire, it is quite acceptable to be prejudiced against:
1) Men
2) Whites
3) Southernors
4) Christians

MarkTheGreat on July 30, 2009 at 4:41 PM

I just don’t need that scrawny big-eared man-boy telling my family how to live our lives. I feed my children right, they are active. We do not need government intervention into every aspect of our lives.

TXMomof3 on July 30, 2009 at 4:43 PM

A friend of mine is a Navy SEAL.

He showed up for his class at the Navy’s Senior Enlisted Academy overweight and the Academy didn’t want him to class up. They tried to kick him out of the school.

But when his Commanding Officer was called to inform him that his SEAL showed up overweight – his CO blew a gasket and yelled at the Director on the phone.

“I pay that guy to kill people and break things! I don’t pay him to look sexy in uniform! Have you given him his PT test yet?”

The Director said … “No”.

“Well then – I suggest you give him the PT test – and call me back if he doesn’t ACE the thing. Otherwise … I expect him to class up!”

So my friend went out and did the PT test with the rest of us.

Out of a class of about 50 people – he beat every one of us – including one other SEAL that was classing up.

Anecdotal? Yes – but I have a lot of those anecdotes.

Having been associated with fitness in the military for 24 years – I can tell you this …

Body Mass is NOT a good indicator of fitness. What really matters is physical activity and cardio health. If you have a guy or gal who’s active 5 to 7 days a week and getting their heart rate up there where it needs to be for at least 40 minutes a day – they can carry 50 pounds of extra weight easily. Maybe more.

By contrast – a skinny guy who sits behind a computer all day eating hot pockets and playing World of Warcraft …

Not very healthy.

That’s the problem – it’s all in the lifestyle – but statistics can’t keep track of who is working out and who is honestly being physically active. So the do-do heads take the easy way out – and decide they’ll pronounce the fat people unhealthy as a class. It’s not true.

HondaV65 on July 30, 2009 at 4:43 PM

I’ve never smoked but I sure have felt sorry for smokers for the past ten or more years, the picture of evil. Everybody who drinks Coke at my house disappears when they turn side ways. It’s not fair (my best whiney voice).

Cindy Munford on July 30, 2009 at 4:44 PM

They can kiss my fat white southern blue eyed butt.

TXMomof3 on July 30, 2009 at 4:45 PM

just vote no on everything in Congress. how hard is that?

kelley in virginia on July 30, 2009 at 4:47 PM

redshirt on July 30, 2009 at 4:25 PM

BMI would show most athletic people as being marginal or overweight. Muscle is more massive than fat. Personally, I have a BMI that would be marginal but I run everyday (sub 17 5K and Sub 4 hr marathon in my late 50″s) and do various exercises to maintain my muscle mass. Should I be penalized for that BMI when I am in better shape than many younger skinny folk whom I routinely beat at races.

chemman on July 30, 2009 at 4:48 PM

They might as well tax diet sodas too. Does anyone think that grocers and everyone else selling beverages is going to have two tier pricing? This is just a give away to Big Beverage.

rw on July 30, 2009 at 4:48 PM

HondaV65 is right, BMI is garbage. If you have any amount of muscle mass above normal you will be classified as over weight on the BMI chart. The Navy actually came up with there own way of measuring fitness using the neck/wrist/waist percent body fat measurements because, like his friend, a lot of the SEALS were being classified as overweight when using BMI.

RobD on July 30, 2009 at 4:49 PM

We should not be paying for other people’s health care – period.

Do I care what kind of car my neighbor drives? Nope – it doesn’t concern me – he buys a car when he wants one – and he buys it with his own money.

But …

If I had to chip in some dough to him every time he bought a new car – and the amount I chipped in was dependent on what kind of car he bought …

Then I expect I would want to interfere with HIS choice and I’d be a bit angry if he bought a cadillac and didn’t need one.

But if I’m not subsidizing him – what the hell do I care?

That’s freedom – that’s liberty.

The crime is not being fat – the crime is being involved in a system that pays for the health care of others.

HondaV65 on July 30, 2009 at 4:50 PM

OK OK my bad. Scrap BMI. Use a direct bodyfat% as a measure then. Higher fat, higher taxes.
I only say that to refute taxing “bad foods”. I would prefer nobody be taxed extra for anything, but for the sake of argument it is better to tax the individual with the problem, than all of us who occasionally like a big gulp.
I still want to deduct my gym membership. And if I can deduct training, there is a real cute one in the gym I could hire…

redshirt on July 30, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Hmmmm…maybe I should switch sides and support food sin taxes. Then, I could make a fortune with my twinkie-ding dong speakeasy!

batter on July 30, 2009

What’s the password? Knock, knock: Dolly sent me.

SKYFOX on July 30, 2009 at 4:53 PM

redshirt on July 30, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Or…. lets just get the Government away from the idea that they get to tell a Free People how to live?

This is using the Tax system to coerce the people, not fund the government… not even CLOSE to what the Founders intended for our country.

Romeo13 on July 30, 2009 at 4:54 PM

to hell with all of them: OpenCola

skree on July 30, 2009 at 4:54 PM

OK OK my bad. Scrap BMI. Use a direct bodyfat% as a measure then. Higher fat, higher taxes.
I only say that to refute taxing “bad foods”. I would prefer nobody be taxed extra for anything, but for the sake of argument it is better to tax the individual with the problem, than all of us who occasionally like a big gulp.

redshirt on July 30, 2009 at 4:50 PM

There is no case to be made for taxing fat people for being fat, no matter the measure. Taxes are only to fund legitimate government activites, not to shape society. If people think that something is wrong and is hurting society, then they make laws against it. If they want to institute a law illegalizing being fat, with a corresponding fine, then that is the legal way to do it. Of course, they wouldn’t dare try that because it is so insane.

progressoverpeace on July 30, 2009 at 4:55 PM

People who eat themselves to 300lbs are absolutely of more cost to service providers (both public and otherwise) than responsible people. Do we ignore that entirely?

ernesto on July 30, 2009 at 4:24 PM

The answer is to punish by means of more taxes everyone- overweight or not- who might enjoy the occasional McDonalds burger, bacon and eggs breakfast, candy bar, beer or soda?

Where does it stop? Increased taxes on playground equipment if some study finds that having a swingset increases the chance of injuries? Increased taxes on woodworking equipment because hobbyists are more likely to cut off a finger?

Will we face annual, government mandated health checkups that serve to punish those who’ve gained weight or are found to have nicotine in their system?

The role of government should be to protect freedoms, not restrict them by means of nanny state micromanagement of people’s lives in the form taxing behavior it disapproves of.

Hollowpoint on July 30, 2009 at 4:56 PM

RobD on July 30, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Exactly – I worked at the White House too – joint service – and all the military services had a system of measuring folks … they didn’t just go by BMI. If you failed BMI then you got measured (neck / waist / height). Air Force even allowed you to take the immersion test back then if you failed both the BMI and the tape. Can you immagine how much dough we’d be out if we immersed every fatty in the U.S. to determine their percentage of body fat?

You don’t want this nightmare – I was involved in this crap in the military. You can do it there – we micro-manage everyone’s life in the military. You don’t want this for the public at large.

Now … back in the mid 90′s – Air Force even got rid of their standard PT test in favor of what we called a “tricycle test”. Basically – you pedalled a bike with a heart monitor on you and they gaged your heart’s ability to recover and react to certain levels of exertion. Didn’t work too good at first but I thought they were on to something. Maybe they perfected it – I don’t know. Maybe they gave it up since then.

But if you want to measure health accurately – a scale won’t do it.

HondaV65 on July 30, 2009 at 4:57 PM

How about sin taxes on everyone who lives in cities that have serious smog problems. That can’t be good for your health. You know Denver, Los Angeles, Atlanta and any others on the EPA’s list of having unhealthy air a certain number of days a year.

If you want to tax my BMI I get to tax your bad air. //sarc

chemman on July 30, 2009 at 4:58 PM

I could make a fortune with my twinkie-ding dong speakeasy!

Yep.

And if someone didn’t pay for their twinkie, you could break their knees.

And if someone else starts another speakeasy on your turf, you could kill them.

And when the goverment effort to eradicate them drove the cost of wholesale twinkies up, you could have them smuggled from Mexico, Russia, Vietnam and Afghanistan. Of course, since it’s all illegal, you’d have to deal with Mexican, Russian gangs, the Communists and the Taliban. And they’d kill off their competition, because the money from filling the demand would be astounding.

And the government would pass a “Junk Food Crimes Act of 2011″, would would mandate property forfeiture for Possessing DingDongs With Intent To Purchase”, creating a whole new class of government employees we’d need to pay for, not to mention a whole new class of former-liberties that are now federal crimes.

It’s time for change.

Mitch_Berg on July 30, 2009 at 4:58 PM

I am sorry, but I think this all stinks. I really don’t care about a coke tax. For some reason the only acceptable prejudice left is against overweight people. I find that to be totally offensive.

TXMomof3 on July 30, 2009 at 4:28 PM
Au contraire, it is quite acceptable to be prejudiced against:
1) Men
2) Whites
3) Southernors
4) Christians

MarkTheGreat on July 30, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Mark’s right! Since I happen to fit ALL FIVE CATAGORIES, I’m feeling pretty damned put upon right now! Now, if I only owned a gun….

rhbandsp on July 30, 2009 at 4:59 PM

People who eat themselves to 300lbs are absolutely of more cost to service providers (both public and otherwise) than responsible people. Do we ignore that entirely?

ernesto on July 30, 2009 at 4:24 PM

Yes in a free country we ignore that entirely. It’s none of your damn business. Let private insurance charge a premium for the extra risk if they wish, but you don’t get to tell someone else how to live.

DFCtomm on July 30, 2009 at 4:36 PM

Bing.

It’s called “the free market”, ernesto. In the olden days when schools taught basic economic principles, you would have learned this by your sophomore year in high school.

Now, of course, you are taught by the 98% socialist/unionist/liberal-Demorat teachers that you are only a victim of racist economic oppression, and not a person who makes decisions based on supply and demand in a world of limited resources. A shame.

Jaibones on July 30, 2009 at 4:59 PM

Maybe if the government would stop paying for any healthcare at all, they wouldn’t give a shit what we do.

skree on July 30, 2009 at 4:59 PM

Mark’s right! Since I happen to fit ALL FIVE CATAGORIES, I’m feeling pretty damned put upon right now! Now, if I only owned a gun….

rhbandsp on July 30, 2009

Then you’d be on the Homeland Security watchlist.

SKYFOX on July 30, 2009 at 5:03 PM

What’s the password? Knock, knock: Dolly sent me.

SKYFOX on July 30, 2009 at 4:53 PM

How about: “Let them eat cupcake”

batter on July 30, 2009 at 5:04 PM

Hey I have an idea …

If we’re going to tax fatties, let’s make sure we give them all the opportunity we can give them to “rehabilitate” … Or better yet, we need to have programs out there encourage healthy lifestyles from a very early age – so that they don’t get fat.

Hey … We do it for criminals.

We need to …

1. Every kid should have a mandatory structured physical training program – starting in Kindergarten and going all the way through High School graduation. Five days a week, with quarterly physical tests to ensure they are within standards.

2. We also need dietary curriculum – teach them how to eat right to stay fit.

3. If they become overweight, or fail the PT tests – we can put them on Mandatory PT. This would be like an additional hour or two per day to their normal PT routine. We can also limit what they eat in the Cafeteria.

4. If they go to college – we can make maintaining physical standards a pre-requisite to them getting college loans or financial aid.

5. As an adult, if they go out of standards – we need to mandate “remedial” health courses – you can teach them at City Hall or something. Put some physical activity into that also.

Should only cost about 10 Trillion dollars to take care of all Americans in this fashion – and of course, let’s not forget about the illegal aliens – they need to be a part of this too.

Yeah … About $10 Trillion – drop in the bucket.

We have to be compassionate about this and set people up to succeed.

It’s the liberal way.

HondaV65 on July 30, 2009 at 5:07 PM

HondaV65 on July 30, 2009 at 4:57 PM

Age based PT tests for ALL!!! /s

Its funny, I live in Denver, which has one of the lowest obesity rates in the Country.

Reason? Parks, bikepaths, hiking trails, and that everyone ELSE is in pretty good shape.

I went back to California (Central Valley) to see Mom last year, and I bet I was the ONLY vehicle in town with both a ski rack, and a bike rack… While in Denver? Its a very normal thing to see.

Romeo13 on July 30, 2009 at 5:07 PM

Now is the time to invest in an arugula farm.

Cicero43 on July 30, 2009 at 5:11 PM

Now, if I only owned a gun….

rhbandsp on July 30, 2009 at 4:59 PM

What’s holding you back. :)

I fit 3 of the 4 criteria. Not southern. But then again I own a few guns by Ruger and Springfield.

chemman on July 30, 2009 at 5:11 PM

So, we should scrap food stamps?

Mew

acat on July 30, 2009 at 4:42 PM

The other day at the grocery store, I had to wait my plump keister behind two overweight welfare queens. The reason they took so long…their baby-daddy-babies couldn’t make up their minds which sodas and candy bars they wanted at check out. My kids know better than to even ask.

Laura in Maryland on July 30, 2009 at 5:12 PM

Will this included Pepsi? After their hopey changey ad campaign, it’d better!

The family and I were sick for the past week or so. We’ve gone through a

lot

of ginger ale. Will we need prescriptions or dispensations for clear liquids from our doctors (assuming we’ll be able to get an appointment).

Even when I was a kid I never cared for playing “Mother-May-I”

Laura in Maryland on July 30, 2009 at 5:16 PM

Umm, no. The real world is more complicated than a government plan. Here’s one for you. Let’s outlaw alcohol. That means no alcohol is available, right? WRONG!

For food, it’s even easier to skirt the law, and the tax. Are we placing a sin tax on flour? Soda water? Flavorings? If not, then people can MAKE THEIR OWN FOOD. They could even make food for their friends. Why, they could even GROW THEIR OWN FOOD. Fruits, especially, would require a government crackdown, as they’re very high in sugar.

In all cases, people will find a way to skirt government attempts to modify their behavior, often turning to worse alternatives.

hawksruleva on July 30, 2009 at 4:36 PM

It sounds good on paper, but how often has a black market actually sprung up for an overtaxed but legal substance? Gasoline? Cigarettes? Alcohol? All of these things carry massive tax burdens, but none of them have a significant illicit market. Food? Get serious. Some people would grow some of their own, but most people would rather pay extra and not worry about it.

I am not advocating sin taxes, and I never will. The practice is an obscene violation of the concepts this country was founded upon. If you want to smoke six packs a day and baloon up to 800 pounds and ride your motorcycle without a helmet, fine. If my insurance company insists on offering you insurance at the same price as mine, expecting me to subsidize your bad choices, I’ll probably never know, but if I do, I might go somewhere else if it was worth the effort.

The only sin I really want to tax is illegal immigration.

Immolate on July 30, 2009 at 5:22 PM

Ok if we are going down this route lets get real.

I want to tax ski’s, snowboards, skateboards, bikes (all types), camping equipment, and other related accessories. Those people are always getting hurt and clogging up the works.

Let’s tax people with multiple car accidents, unsafe drivers, and any car that goes over 40 mph. Those people are causing accidents which cost money.

Let’s also tax crab purchases. I watch that Deadliest Catch show. That stuff looks dangerous and probably costs some money.

There are lots of ways to make money taxing things I don’t do. Why not, right?

Conair on July 30, 2009 at 5:28 PM

So, we should scrap food stamps?

Mew

acat on July 30, 2009 at 4:42 PM

It’s the entitlement system or America. It’s going to become obvious that you can’t have both.

DFCtomm on July 30, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Gasoline? Cigarettes? Alcohol? All of these things carry massive tax burdens, but none of them have a significant illicit market.

Wrong.

Cigarettes had a huge black market in New York for years before the mobs out of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, flooded the market. They’d drive tractor-trailer trucks full of cigarettes from North Carolina and other Mid-Atlantic tobacco states back up to New York City on a regular basis.

In Canada, it’s an even larger deal and it’s not uncommon for people mixed up in those rackets to get killed like rival drug dealers do in the US.

teke184 on July 30, 2009 at 5:33 PM

It’s the entitlement system or America. It’s going to become obvious that you can’t have both.

DFCtomm on July 30, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Yep.

progressoverpeace on July 30, 2009 at 5:34 PM

well, if we have a fat tax, i want to have michelle, my belle, obama’s CPA.

kelley in virginia on July 30, 2009 at 5:41 PM

progressoverpeace on July 30, 2009 at 5:34 PM

I read this article last night, and it’s very interesting. He discusses our deficits, and the need for government to cut spending. He never quite makes it to entitlements have to go, but if read between the lines it’s the only answer that works, and also some interesting analysis of our relationship with China.

DFCtomm on July 30, 2009 at 5:43 PM

In other words, government would decide which foods to “punish”, and which to “reward”

Um, isn’t that already done with farm subsidies? If it were politically feasible, it would make a lot more sense just to reduce the corn subsidy. This should have a similar net effect as adding taxes onto products with high fructose corn syrup and cholesterol-packed meat products which feed on corn. And true conservatives would have no basis for opposing it. Republicans in the Midwest, on the other hand…..

Immolate on July 30, 2009 at 5:22 PM

No black market for cigarettes? Really? And sin taxes as a violation of the founding principles? In the year-and-a-half between the ratification of the Constitution and the ratification of the Bill of Rights, taxes were enacted that would lead to the Whiskey Rebellion. This was rebellion against the U.S. federal government for a tax that, in Hamilton’s words, was imposed “more as a measure of social discipline than as a source of revenue.” Now you might identify with the rebels, but it was the Founders who imposed the tax, which is hard to reconcile with the notion that sin taxes violate founding concepts.

calbear on July 30, 2009 at 5:45 PM

If you are topping 3 bills, are you not at risk of kicking the bucket sooner rather than later anyway? It all evens out. Just another money grab, time to “recalibrate”.

ncsully on July 30, 2009 at 5:48 PM

By contrast – a skinny guy who sits behind a computer all day eating hot pockets and playing World of Warcraft …

My son could easily fit your description. Thanks to great genetics, he is 6’4″ and 127lbs soaking wet. We however have insisted he play sports or lift weights or WORK AT JOB because skinny or fat, his keister is not sitting around the house doing nothing.

Back to 300lb question – what about the enablers that bring the food in? Are e going to prosecute them?

This whole thing is just so out there, I cannot believe that it is even being brought up.

catlady on July 30, 2009 at 5:55 PM

The feds start taxing bratwurst or Polish sausage, I’m going to war.

Bishop on July 30, 2009 at 5:59 PM

It just hit me!!

McDonalds (& fast cheap food in general) is one of the few companies making a profit with a rising stock price. the USSR Obumbler has turned all guns on that activity. Take that McDonalds or you won’t have a seat at the table.

He is the only one between you and the dinner forks!

jukin on July 30, 2009 at 6:04 PM

There have been alot of great ancedotal stories here of the various flaws in ANY system for a food tax, a health tax,or an obesity tax.

I think it all boils down to personal responsibilty and accepting the consequences of your actions = something I got taught when I was young, but seems to be missing now. If you chose to be an unhealthy 300lbs, then you run the risk for the attendant diseases. If you indulge in behaviors that leave you thin yet unhealthy (bulimia) you bear the consequences.

In the same manner the free market corrects itself if government would just let it. Look at all the “healthy choice” items available – a marketing result of the increased awareness of the American people of the benefits of a more nutritionally fit lifestyle. (Personally some of the healthy choice items for sale are a joke, but that is another matter) The market saw the “need” for reduced fat twinkies (makes me sad) and responded. When the market sees the sales go down for reduced fat twinkies they will go away.

Free market choice can drive this more effectively than any government program.

catlady on July 30, 2009 at 6:06 PM

Another thought = do the unions and Congress get exempt from any obesity tax??? Then fast food consumption should not go down too much, Barney Frank will be around…

catlady on July 30, 2009 at 6:07 PM

As a smoker who just can’t let the anger go over how much a pack costs now, and knowing that the taxes on them will never be reduced, I’m all for taxing all of the items being considered. I know it does not make any sense to wish for such a thing, but I know there are a lot of people, even on HA who think us smokers are retarded and deserve to be screwed. Your day is coming and I for one can’t wait.

kahall on July 30, 2009 at 7:24 PM

Still, ya gotta love the thought of Pepsi being heavily taxed despite their switch to an Obama logo.

BitterClinger on July 30, 2009 at 7:29 PM

You state the “unless” as if it’s an unlikely outlier.

Remember what happened when they banned alcohol, for the nation’s own good.

Mitch_Berg on July 30, 2009 at 4:40 PM

It really depends on the product. You can make black-market alcohol in a bathtub or hidden still (although that’s less safe with the IR-viewing satellites available) or even in a trash bag as an inventive jailbird found out.

But making black-market Snickers bars or Icees? Not nearly as easy.

Dark-Star on July 30, 2009 at 8:50 PM

But making black-market Snickers bars or Icees? Not nearly as easy.

Dark-Star on July 30, 2009 at 8:50 PM

I don’t know how old you are, but let me assure you that once upon a time, not that long ago, candy didn’t come with wrappers.

DFCtomm on July 30, 2009 at 8:59 PM

I don’t know how old you are, but let me assure you that once upon a time, not that long ago, candy didn’t come with wrappers.

DFCtomm on July 30, 2009 at 8:59 PM

Whall gol-ee, thanks a lot! Ah never knew thet!

(/big fat sarc)

Dark-Star on July 30, 2009 at 9:03 PM

Whall gol-ee, thanks a lot! Ah never knew thet!

(/big fat sarc)

Dark-Star on July 30, 2009 at 9:03 PM

I’m sorry, but from your post I thought you were confused about the complexities required to make candy.

DFCtomm on July 30, 2009 at 9:15 PM

think it all boils down to personal responsibilty and accepting the consequences of your actions = something I got taught when I was young, but seems to be missing now. If you chose to be an unhealthy 300lbs, then you run the risk for the attendant diseases.

catlady on July 30, 2009 at 6:06 PM

Has it occurred to anyone that what you know about fat may not actually be true?

“In this study, they proceeded to look specifically at deaths just from causes popularly believed to be associated with obesity. Was adiposity really associated with higher deaths from these conditions? They examined deaths from 21 different “obesity-related” diseases, including: cardiovascular disease, cancers (colon cancer, breast cancer, esophageal cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, kidney cancer, or pancreatic cancer) and diabetes or kidney disease. For the low risk level of measurements, the associations with deaths “were all quite small and close to zero,” they wrote. There were no statistical associations for the intermediate levels. Finally, “for the obese level, none of the 21 differences would have been significant even at a P value of 0.05,” they reported. Without even a credible association, being fat cannot be pointed to as a credible cause. “Does it Really Matter How Your Numbers Look?”

h/tJunkfood Science

And this study was from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The same people hawking the “Obesity Epidemic”

This post at Junkfood Science
has a lot of information about the players in the 40 billion dollar a year obesity industry. In the way it is organized it reminds me very much of the global warming industry…. It’s all about money and government control.

Weight of the Nation – “We have a plan”

conservativerepublicanhippie on July 31, 2009 at 9:13 AM

The basis for this health care plan continues to be and extension of Ms. Sanger’s population control methodology ‘eugenics’.

Government that gets to decide who within its population lives or dies is an absolute dictatorship is antithesisis to the precepts of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

The question to ask, Is this the idea of one person or is this the goal of Demoncrats?

MSGTAS on July 31, 2009 at 10:30 AM

People who eat themselves to 300lbs are absolutely of more cost to service providers (both public and otherwise) than responsible people. Do we ignore that entirely?
ernesto on July 30, 2009 at 4:24 PM

It looks like we’ve found a fascist willing to work in the deconcentration camps. Remember to wait a couple of hours after use before going into the showers, adolf ernesto. And it’ll provide a justification for Amtrack subsidies, too.

andycanuck on July 31, 2009 at 6:53 PM