12.20.2008

Why the Soda-tax should scare us all

New York Gov. Paterson's new solution to solving his state's budget problems should bother each and every one of us. It isn't necessarily that he is proposing raising taxes - after all that is the classic Democrat solution to all budget shortfalls - but the type of tax he is proposing. It's one thing to have an income tax, or a property tax or a general sales tax, but once governments begin to use our tax code to dictate certain behavior they have gone too far.

We already have so-called "sin taxes" on cigarettes and alcohol. Those are designed to curb the use of those products and penalize those who do use them. We have allowed them largely because we know that smoking and excessive drinking is bad for our health, but is it a good idea to allow government to do that? The answer is absolutely not.

Once we allowed government to impose its sin taxes on tobacco and alcohol, we gave our legislatures the power to tax and regulate anything that might be bad for us. Which is exactly how we got the proposed Soda tax - both in New York and right here in Wisconsin. That's right, last session, Rep. Chuck Benedict (D - Beloit) introduced a similar sales tax on the sale of soft drinks in Wisconsin. His reasoning was that too many kids drank soda and were having all sorts of negative health effects from tooth decay to diabetes. While we should all be concerned about our health and the health of our children, using tax policy to force one's own view of healthy living onto the entire population is wrong.

Don't think that this is as far as liberals are wanting to go either. Just read Nicholas Kristof's column in Wednesday's NY Times. He is gleeful, absolutely ecstatic at the prospect of a soda tax and calls Gov. Paterson courageous for introducing such a tax. The goal isn't to raise money or improve public health, there is no public good at play. The goal is to run your lives because liberals like Paterson, Kristof and Benedict think they know how to run it better than you do. I know it sounds harsh, but that's the way I see it.

I realize it may seem as though I am making a big deal out of something seemingly so trivial, but seriously, where does it end? Go and read Kristof's column. Really look at the lengths to which he and other liberals are willing to go in dictating how you eat. What's next a tax on all milk that isn't non-fat? What about foods high in sodium, like bacon? When does it end?

It should bother everyone that those in government wish to tell us what to eat and drink. For crying out loud, Kristof thinks that the biggest advancement in health care in the last 40 years was the cigarette tax! And he's serious. This type of thinking must be stopped now, while we can still afford to eat and drink what we want.

One last thing, before anyone cries hypocrisy I don't care if it's Democrats or Republicans trying to tell us how to live our lives. I have the same criticisms for those weak Republicans who support smoking bans and sin taxes as I do for Democrats. This isn't necessarily a partisan problem, it's a government problem.