Friday, July 13, 2007

"Fat tax" could "save lives"?

Those crazy Euros are at it again. From al-Reuters:
A "fat tax" on salty, sugary and fatty foods could save thousands of lives each year, according to a study published on Thursday.

Researchers at Oxford University say that charging Value Added Tax (VAT) at 17.5 percent on foods deemed to be unhealthy would cut consumer demand and reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes.

The purchase tax is already levied on a small number of products such as potato crisps, ice cream, confectionery and chocolate biscuits, but most food is exempt.

The move could save an estimated 3,200 lives in Britain each year, according to the study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

"A well-designed and carefully-targeted fat tax could be a useful tool for reducing the burden of food-related disease," the study concluded.

The team from Oxford's Department of Public Health said higher taxes have already been imposed on cigarettes and alcohol to encourage healthy living.

...and those taxes have been failures at that for which they were intended. We have cig and booze taxes here, too, with similar results: millions of people still smoke and drink. All these silly "sin taxes" do is line the pockets of Big Guvmint. Besides, if that 20 oz. cold one at AJ's Sports Bar costs $3.00, would you order fewer if the suggested 17.5% tax were added, bringing the total to $3.53? Me neither.

Aside from the obvious "Nanny State" argument, there's another argument to be made here. Whenever government gets it mitts on our money through taxes on cigarettes or alcohol, they almost always say that they will use the tax money on health insurance government programs, usually for kids. Well, what if the purported desired effect is achieved, i.e. more people finally quit smoking or drinking? That would, by default, mean less money would be available to fund these new health insurance programs! Gasp! Why, how could you former smokers and former drinkers be so selfish as to deprive children of their health care? Do your patriotic duty, by God (insert deity of preference here) and get out there and destroy your own health so you can fund the programs that preserve the health of others!

I work out and eat healthy foods because I choose to do so. If you don't live similarly, then who in the Sam Hill would I be to demand that you do? I would be Big Guvmint, that's who.

Labels: , ,