The War on Soda claims its first victory

posted at 8:01 pm on November 5, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

Last month we featured an interview with the Mayor of Berkeley, where he fretted over whether or not Big Soda would be able to stop them from implementing a tax on soft drinks so they could save the people from themselves. The winning quote from that piece was, Honest to God, if they can stop us here, they can stop us anywhere. It turns out that Hizzoner needn’t have worried. The poor will now be protected from their own bad choices by their betters.

Berkeley, Calif., a city known for its progressive politics, made history Tuesday night by approving the first real sin tax on soda in the United States.

Voters approved Measure D, a penny-per-ounce tax, by a three-to-one margin after a bitter campaign battle, with the beverage industry spending more than $2.1 million to oppose the initiative. The pro-tax campaign was bolstered by more than $650,000 from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Berkeley has now done what more than two dozen other cities and states have tried and failed to do in recent years: Put in place a punitive tax on sugar sweetened-beverage tax designed to reduce consumption and raise revenue. The measure, which covers sports drinks, sweet teas and beverage syrups used in coffee shops, would raise the price of a 20-ounce Coca-Cola by about 10 percent. The tax, which does not apply to diet sodas, kicks in Jan. 1, 2015.

So the Deplorable Nanny State Mayor chalks one up in the win column. The article goes on to describe “health advocates” as practically jumping for joy. I do appreciate the fact that the coverage is at least honest enough to refer to it as a punitive tax, which is exactly what it is. But who is being punished with this action? The obvious answer is the poor, who are probably the most likely to be drinking Big Gulps in the first place. The wealthy professors and cocktail party crew don’t need to worry about a ten percent hike in costs, but the people who tend their lawns and gardens, clean their pools and empty their trash might.

But hey… they’ll be more healthy. Once they start riding their bikes to that second job to pay all the taxes, the pounds will just drop off as if by magic. Well done, Berkeley. You’ve really struck a blow for freedom here.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Magicjava on November 5, 2014 at 8:26 PM
Magicjava on November 5, 2014 at 9:37 PM

Worse for your health than the sodas is sitting in front of your computer doing nothing. Maybe we should tax you for sitting for so long, after all it is bad for you and will lead to heart disease, obesity,diabetes and other awful things we must save you from by taxing you.

batterup on November 5, 2014 at 9:51 PM

Iowa born-raised in the Chicago So. ‘Burbs.
It’s still bungalow, awright, and pop. LoL

annoyinglittletwerp on November 5, 2014 at 9:49 PM

You hear “Ya” much in Iowa, ALT?

whatcat on November 5, 2014 at 9:52 PM

whatcat on November 5, 2014 at 9:52 PM

My dad never said it.
I’ve heard it used in Northern Wisconsin.

annoyinglittletwerp on November 5, 2014 at 9:54 PM

Magicjava on November 5, 2014 at 9:33 PM

I repeat-what people drink/eat is none of your DAMN business.
Worry about YOURSELF!

annoyinglittletwerp on November 5, 2014 at 9:37 PM

I don’t care at all what you eat. If you said you wanted to live off of whiskey and ding dongs, it’s fine by me.

What I said was I don’t mind a 10% tax on soda, given its known problems.

Would those be sweeteners made by evil corporations? I’d stay away from those if I were you. Be a man; grow your own sugar cane, make your own artificial sweeteners.

As to your claim that something “tastes better” … tastes better to whom?

Lastly, on the off chance that I’m in better shape than you are, would I then have the power (by your distorted thinking) of being able to dictate to you what you can and can’t consume, since being in better shape I must obviously know more about health than you? If I don’t get this superpower over you, why would you, being in worse shape, get to tell me what to consume? How do you rationalize this insanity in that pea-brain of yours?

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on November 5, 2014 at 9:33 PM

I don’t even know where to start with this one, but I’ll try.

If you feel there’s some sort of advantage to making your own sugar from cane, go ahead and do it. But as far as I know, sugar is sugar. There’s not going to be any difference from what you make and what you can buy. But you can make soda that’s much healthier than what you buy.

As to the idea that “who’s healthier” has something to do with whether or not soda has known health issues, that makes no sense at all. And I also never said corporations were evil. I said you have no control over what the corporation puts in what they make.

At this point I think the examples are getting a little bit silly. I understand that folks here don’t like the idea of the tax. But if you want to argue with me just for the sake of arguing, shoot me a PM (can you do PMs on this site?) I don’t want to ballon this thread swatting down straw man arguments.

Magicjava on November 5, 2014 at 9:56 PM

I buy quart sport drinks on sale for a buck apiece. At a cent per ounce charged to the distributor, that’s a 32% wholesale sin tax – wonder how much it will be at retail?

Jumpintimmy on November 5, 2014 at 9:58 PM

HooHoo! Guess who’s lurking a bit? Don’t worry, Magic, you won’t. We might enjoy watching you yty though.

DemetriusPhalerum on November 5, 2014 at 10:00 PM

yty=try. Dayyum.

DemetriusPhalerum on November 5, 2014 at 10:02 PM

tax does not apply to:

– soda drinks mixed on site
– coffee or tea
– drinks like lemonade

This appears to be false. You might be confusing this with the San Francisco measure — which failed — and did not tax things like Pumpkin Spice Latte because it would be too complicated. (If you saw how much San Franciscans love their coffee shops, you’d know the real reason.) The Berkeley tax does. To get around the complexity, it taxes according to the usual item instructions. In other words, if your iced tea usually comes with three pumps of syrup, you get taxed, even if you asked for none. Conversely, if you order a black coffee, you can add as much sugar and sugar-containing soy milk as you want and dodge the tax. That’s a notable flaw, but it gets at close to your criteria as possible without requiring cafes to report every pump to the government and follow around every patron.

That’s next.

Just kidding. Next is artificial sweeteners; after all, many studies have shown that they have the same correlations with disease and obesity as the natural ones.

calbear on November 5, 2014 at 10:03 PM

My dad never said it.
I’ve heard it used in Northern Wisconsin.

annoyinglittletwerp on November 5, 2014 at 9:54 PM

It’s more of a Minn/Wisc/Dakotas thing.

whatcat on November 5, 2014 at 10:03 PM

calbear; despite being a native of Pueblo de Los Angeles’ I have no idea what a latte is. Is that a good thing?

DemetriusPhalerum on November 5, 2014 at 10:09 PM

Across the Bay, we here in the sensible, conservative bastion of San Francisco rejected our own soda tax (Proposition E) yesterday.

Emperor Norton on November 5, 2014 at 9:05 PM

The only reason the Tax on Sugar Sweetened Beverages(Prop E) didn’t pass in San Francisco is because it would have been a tax for a specific purpose. In this case the special purpose was to fund City grants for active recreation, improving food access, health and nutrition. New taxes for a special purpose require two thirds of the voters to vote in favor of the tax to pass.

As of the vote count today, 90,063 San Franciscans voted in favor of this new tax which was 54.4% of the vote, but not enough to meet the two thirds threshhold.

http://sfgov2.org/index.aspx?page=4641

The Soda Tax in San Francisco would have been 2 cents per ounce.

And since the tax would have been taken “upon initial distribution of the sugar sweetened beverage in the city,” stores could decide whether to add the tax to the cost of the drinks, or to spread the cost of the tax over all of the other products they sell.

So large grocery stores could cover the cost of the tax by increasing the cost of the rest of the food in their store by a few cents, which destroys the argument about reducing soda consumption.

But small stores would get hit hard by the tax because they wouldn’t have as much inventory to absorb the cost of the tax.

Berkeley’s soda tax only required 50% to pass because the revenue from the Soda Tax will be going into their general fund.

The soda tax is a stupid idea that would have hurt local small businesses, but 90,063 San Franciscans fell for it.

San Francisco can now watch and learn from Berkeley’s experience.

wren on November 5, 2014 at 10:10 PM

I know this won’t win me friends on Hot Air, but I support this tax. Most drinks are loaded with sweetners that lead to tooth decay, obesity, diabeties, and over feeding the parasites that live in our gut. They’re basically slow poison and I don’t see anything wrong with providing incentive to people to drink sonething else,
The attempted NYC ban on large drinks was dumb because it provided no incentive to drink less. All you had to do was buy two drinks instead of one.
Magicjava on November 5, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Meh. Get back to me when they end the Fed subsidies to the corn growers who make the high fructose corn syrup that is a cheap sugar substitute. Berkeley is now just taxing people on both ends. For “health” lolz. Bunch of hippie fascists doing social engineering. Oh, and those same hippie vegans promote low fat high carb diets that causes as much or more obesity type problems than soda pop.

And I stopped drinking most soda pop 10 years ago. The diet stuff is scary when you research it.

oryguncon on November 5, 2014 at 10:21 PM

The soda tax is not about how many pennies get charged per ounce, and not about sugar consumption.

It’s about a small cadre of psychotic fascists who want to run other people’s lives. It’s Orwellian. It could just as easily be about wine or milk consumption, too, but they don’t really care. These are many of the same nut cases who lied to you about “climate change.”

Emperor Norton on November 5, 2014 at 10:22 PM

calbear; despite being a native of Pueblo de Los Angeles’ I have no idea what a latte is. Is that a good thing?

DemetriusPhalerum on November 5, 2014 at 10:09 PM

Not to worry, Demetrius.

I imagine you have had coffee with milk lots of times and just didn’t realize how trendy you were.

A latte (/ˈlɑːteɪ/ or /ˈlæteɪ/)[1][2] is a coffee drink made with coffee and steamed milk

Variants include replacing the coffee with another drink base such as masala chai (spiced Indian tea), mate or matcha, and other types of milk, such as soy milk or almond milk are also used.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latte

wren on November 5, 2014 at 10:22 PM

Magicjava on November 5, 2014 at 9:56 PM

Actually you DO care-if you didn’t-you wouldn’t be doing the happy dance over the use of sin taxes to change behavior.
My husband is short and fat-and drinks very little pop. He has a thing for Blue Bell Ice Cream.
He’s an adult. His choice.
Spawn is tall and a bit too skinny and loves Mt. Dew.
He’s an adult. His choice.
I’m short and within my ideal weight-need to tone up just a bit-and have a thing for fancy, milk-laden, sugary coffee drinks.
I’m an adult. MY choice!

annoyinglittletwerp on November 5, 2014 at 10:24 PM

New taxes for a special purpose require two thirds of the voters to vote in favor of the tax to pass.

As of the vote count today, 90,063 San Franciscans voted in favor of this new tax which was 54.4% of the vote, but not enough to meet the two thirds threshhold….

Berkeley’s soda tax only required 50% to pass because the revenue from the Soda Tax will be going into their general fund.

The Berkeley tax appears to have gotten about 75% of the vote. So it wouldn’t have mattered either way.

calbear on November 5, 2014 at 10:31 PM

I’m an adult. MY choice!

annoyinglittletwerp on November 5, 2014 at 10:24 PM

…agreed!

JugEarsButtHurt on November 5, 2014 at 10:33 PM

It’s about a small cadre of psychotic fascists who want to run other people’s lives. It’s Orwellian. It could just as easily be about wine or milk consumption, too, but they don’t really care. These are many of the same nut cases who lied to you about “climate change.”

Emperor Norton on November 5, 2014 at 10:22 PM

Yup, and there is a cluster of 90,000+ of them within the boundaries of the People’s Republic of San Francisco.

These Voters are the same people who have inflicted Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi on the rest of the country.

Oh yeah, and chief climate change preacher, Al Gore, has a condo in San Francisco too.

wren on November 5, 2014 at 10:35 PM

The Berkeley tax appears to have gotten about 75% of the vote. So it wouldn’t have mattered either way.

calbear on November 5, 2014 at 10:31 PM

You’re right. It didn’t matter in Berkeley.

But the control freaks who put the soda tax on the ballot in San Francisco must have thought they needed to follow a “it’s for the children” strategy to convince more people to vote for it.

Ultimately, the plan to use the tax to pay for recreation, health and nutrition programs for the children back-fired and became the only thing that saved San Franciscans from this tax.

wren on November 5, 2014 at 10:47 PM

the plan to use the tax to pay for recreation, health and nutrition programs for the children back-fired

That’s because there are no children in San Francisco.

Emperor Norton on November 5, 2014 at 11:14 PM

Meh. Get back to me when they end the Fed subsidies to the corn growers who make the high fructose corn syrup that is a cheap sugar substitute. Berkeley is now just taxing people on both ends. For “health” lolz. Bunch of hippie fascists doing social engineering. Oh, and those same hippie vegans promote low fat high carb diets that causes as much or more obesity type problems than soda pop.

And I stopped drinking most soda pop 10 years ago. The diet stuff is scary when you research it.

oryguncon on November 5, 2014 at 10:21 PM

I agree 100% about the Fed subsidies and the low fat/high carb diet both being bad things.

And yeah, the tax is a bit of social engineering. But it’s small enough that it just makes you think before you buy. It doesn’t put the soda out of reach if you really want it.

Actually you DO care-if you didn’t-you wouldn’t be doing the happy dance over the use of sin taxes to change behavior.
My husband is short and fat-and drinks very little pop. He has a thing for Blue Bell Ice Cream.
He’s an adult. His choice.
Spawn is tall and a bit too skinny and loves Mt. Dew.
He’s an adult. His choice.
I’m short and within my ideal weight-need to tone up just a bit-and have a thing for fancy, milk-laden, sugary coffee drinks.
I’m an adult. MY choice!

annoyinglittletwerp on November 5, 2014 at 10:24 PM

I’m going to guess that a 10% tax doesn’t take that choice away. But I’d also be fine with them dropping the tax and putting warning labels on the drinks the way they do with cigarettes.

Magicjava on November 5, 2014 at 11:16 PM

Ok, let’s put warning labels on spoons too. They make you fat you know.

Personal responsibility just cried a little, and slinked away.

Irritable Pundit on November 5, 2014 at 11:58 PM

Have never drank diet soda. The artificial sweeteners give me intense headaches.

MichaelGabriel on November 5, 2014 at 8:35 PM

I drink nothing but diet, have for decades. You might try some Coke products, they use Splenda, which is made from real sugar. Also, Dr Pepper, and their family of products, including 7-Up have what they call “10” meaning only 10 calories per serving. Tastes just like hi-test.

I also use Splenda when I make ice tea. It may be worth trying for you.

TopFuel425 on November 6, 2014 at 12:10 AM

Sorry, I didn’t see your question when I replied above. The answer is Walker/Rubio.

Magicjava on November 5, 2014 at 8:44 PM

So, you want a treasonous amnesty shill and a lying corrupt treasonous amnesty shill on the same ticket? Maybe you need some sugary drinks, your brain is running low on smarts! Sugar can stimulate your brain.

TopFuel425 on November 6, 2014 at 12:14 AM

It’s a revenue measure. If everyone stops drinking the evil drinks, there’s no tax collected. Nobody thinks that’s going to happen. What the city would love to do is to ban anything they don’t like. As it is, all they’ll end up with is more money to waste on more foolishness unique to Berkley.

IndieDogg on November 6, 2014 at 12:20 AM

And yeah, the tax is a bit of social engineering. But it’s small enough that it just makes you think before you buy. It doesn’t put the soda out of reach if you really want it.

Magicjava on November 5, 2014 at 11:16 PM

So you are OK with social engineering and government fascism as long as it’s “small enough”? You don’t deserve in a great Free nation such as the United States.

Actually you DO care-if you didn’t-you wouldn’t be doing the happy dance over the use of sin taxes to change behavior.
My husband is short and fat-and drinks very little pop. He has a thing for Blue Bell Ice Cream.
He’s an adult. His choice.
Spawn is tall and a bit too skinny and loves Mt. Dew.
He’s an adult. His choice.
I’m short and within my ideal weight-need to tone up just a bit-and have a thing for fancy, milk-laden, sugary coffee drinks.
I’m an adult. MY choice!

annoyinglittletwerp on November 5, 2014 at 10:24 PM

I’m going to guess that a 10% tax doesn’t take that choice away. But I’d also be fine with them dropping the tax and putting warning labels on the drinks the way they do with cigarettes.

Magicjava on November 5, 2014 at 11:16 PM

Who are YOU to determine what someone else can afford, or wants to afford. As for cigarettes, hell the taxes on the damned things are far more than the actual cost of the cigarette!. Sales haven’t stopped a bit. Now poor people have to pay over $5 for what they used to buy out of a vending machine for 75 cents!

There is no greater evil on earth than a liberal. No greater threat to the human race. Liberalism is the greatest evil mankind has ever faced. It’s a cancer on all of humanity.

TopFuel425 on November 6, 2014 at 12:38 AM

Nice opportunity for “black market soda” from Hayward to be exploited there.

djtnt on November 5, 2014 at 8:12 PM

Try Oakland or Kensington.

MSimon on November 6, 2014 at 4:21 AM

Ok, let’s put warning labels on spoons too. They make you fat you know.

Personal responsibility just cried a little, and slinked away.

Irritable Pundit on November 5, 2014 at 11:58 PM

You’re against food labels? Really?

So you are OK with social engineering and government fascism as long as it’s “small enough”? You don’t deserve in a great Free nation such as the United States.

TopFuel425 on November 6, 2014 at 12:38 AM

Oh dear Lord. As I said previously, I’m not here to argue for the sake of arguing. After reading your two posts, they’re just not worth responding to.

Magicjava on November 6, 2014 at 6:08 AM

I detest liberals and their need to control everyone’s life, but as far as personal freedom goes I’m 100% okay with the voters in Berkeley deciding that they want to add an extra tax on sugary drinks and anything else they choose. Have at it, Berkeley, tax yourself into oblivion if that is what the majority wants. As for the minority, petition to change the law or better yet, get the hell out of Berkeley (or California for at matter) before it implodes on itself. I recommend the South. Lots of freedom loving Patriots all over the South. You’ll love it here.

KitkatATL on November 6, 2014 at 6:43 AM

Magicjava on November 5, 2014 at 9:20 PM

it is nice of you to identify yourself as a fu**stick so early. helps us know whom to ignore.

dmacleo on November 6, 2014 at 7:02 AM

Magicjava on November 6, 2014 at 6:08 AM

I AM against food warning labels.
I battled a SEVERE eating disorder for a looong time. I will actually never get rid of it entirely.
Food labels wouldn’t affect my obese husband-they’d cause issues for people like me.
Or do you consider a 5’2 120LB woman to be too fat and in need of government rescue.
///

annoyinglittletwerp on November 6, 2014 at 7:17 AM

“…sugar sweetened”? How about corn syrup?

Surellin on November 6, 2014 at 7:42 AM

It won’t affect many people perhaps it should because sales taxes don’t apply to SNAP purchases.

“SNAP licensed retailers may not charge state or local sales tax on SNAP purchases”

Just another tax on wage earners.

MidWestFarmer on November 6, 2014 at 7:54 AM

If the law is designed to reduce consumption, how is it going to raise revenue?

lilyjac on November 6, 2014 at 8:13 AM

My dad never said it.
I’ve heard it used in Northern Wisconsin.

annoyinglittletwerp on November 5, 2014 at 9:54 PM

I grew up in Wisconsin and now live in Minnesota. East of the Wisconsin River, most people use the term soda; the closer you are to Milwaukee, the more likely you are to use it. West of the river and into Minnesota, it’s definitely pop.

And if you are looking for a drinking fountain in Wisconsin, ask for a bubbler.

Mr. D on November 6, 2014 at 8:56 AM

Remember that scene in “Goodfellas” where the protagonist gets busted selling cartons of bootleg cigarettes out of the trunk of a car? Imagine that now in Berkeley with him selling six-packs of Pepsi and Dr. Pepper. Did you ever think you’d see a day when there’d be a Black Market dealing in Coca Cola?

potkas7 on November 6, 2014 at 8:56 AM

So, if the soda companies start making fruit juice that has extra non-sugar sweetener in it, does that get a pass?

Count to 10 on November 6, 2014 at 9:23 AM

I suspect most of the currently used sweeteners in diet sodas will all be proven to cause cancer within the next 10 years.

Berkeley should ban all sweeteners, just to be safe. And not just in sodas.

There will be certain foolish citizens who will add sugar or other sweeteners to their sodas and other food products, even dishes and drinks they make at home, thus defying the overlords and their beneficent totalitarian rule. And we certainly can’t allow that, now can we?

s1im on November 6, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Here in western Washington state it’s pop. Don’t know what they call it east of the Cascades.
As for food labeling, the nutrition and ingredient listings on packaged food are enough information for me to make intelligent decisions on what to consume. I don’t need a label telling me something is bad for me–I can tell on my own if it is by how much fat, calories and sugar is in it, thankyouverymuch.

theotherone on November 6, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Put in place a punitive tax on sugar sweetened-beverage tax

WTF? They put a punitive tax on a tax? (Can we get an editor here?)

“SNAP licensed retailers may not charge state or local sales tax on SNAP purchases”

MidWestFarmer on November 6, 2014 at 7:54 AM

Oh joy. Maybe this being a “sin tax” will let it slink by?

And, of course, the stupidity of this law is legion – since it only applies to drinks with sugar in it. If I were “Big Soda” I would simply pull out of the CA market altogether, or start shrinking my cans (but keep the price the same). You want to vote for this stupidity? Fine, then you can drink your soda out of bottles that you could legally carry on an airliner. And you can pay through the nose for it.

Yes, as was mentioned the other day, it isn’t politicians that are killing the republic, it’s the stupid voters.

GWB on November 6, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Glad I don’t live in Berkley. I think I’d feel compelled to buy sodas (which I don’t drink) and chuck them through selected windows of selected buildings late at night. What if you put Mentos in a fragile glass container and then put ’em in a two-liter of Coke. Use your handy Cok-a-pult to loft the ordinance into a home of a self-appointed nanny and voila! High Explosive round, fire for effect.

Immolate on November 6, 2014 at 11:01 AM

This tax on soda pop ought to put a spike in beer sales. What’s worse, a few pudgy people or a few more drunks?

Woody

woodcdi on November 6, 2014 at 11:06 AM

What’s worse, a few pudgy people or a few more pudgy drunks?

woodcdi on November 6, 2014 at 11:06 AM

fify ;)

GWB on November 6, 2014 at 11:43 AM

I would guess the retail businesses in Oakland were very supportive of this ballot measure.

kmnine on November 6, 2014 at 12:24 PM

I know this won’t win me friends on Hot Air, but I support this tax. Most drinks are loaded with sweetners that lead to tooth decay, obesity, diabeties, and over feeding the parasites that live in our gut. They’re basically slow poison and I don’t see anything wrong with providing incentive to people to drink sonething else.

Magicjava on November 5, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Amazing that you have this perfect knowledge of what is “healthy.”

Doctors have never been able to define “healthy,” because the definition is determined by the individual patient, who either accepts the condition dealt to him without complaint or not. Thus, what is “healthy” for one is “sick” for another with the same physiology and condition(s).

For this reason, I have a policy that I NEVER accept health advice from someone who has followed his own advice and who is at least 120 years old and HAPPY (simply to make sure that the advice is valid and leads to a statistically significant desirable result).

Are you a doctor? Are you a patient? How old are you? How long have you been on your recommended regimen?

…Or are you just a statist who is upset that the government is insufficiently dictatorial?

landlines on November 6, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Edit: “someone who has”… should be “except someone who has”…

landlines on November 6, 2014 at 4:40 PM

You know, I drink a lot of diet soda. But I’m not at all convinced that with all their artificial sweeteners they are the least bit more healthy than regular soda, except insofar as they contain fewer calories.

I imagine eventually, when everyone gets shoved over into diet drinks, they’ll discover that those are worse for you than regular ones. Then it will be oops, our bad, but but SCIENCE!

Alana on November 6, 2014 at 5:45 PM

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