Sunday, October 15, 2017

Chicago's Soda Tax Fizzles

B...but...won't someone think of the children?!?!?!

5 Comments:

Anonymous Critical Spirits said...

OMG IT DIDN'T WORK!?!? WE HAVE TO GO AFTER CIGARETTES NOW!!!!1

4:47 PM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

I don't quite know why taxing sugar (tho I don't see targeting soda in particular) is any different from taxing alcohol or cigarettes or marijuana. The others are taxed because (a) they aren't good for you and (b) have an external cost on society that is not covered by the base price.
What's your opinion on gasoline taxes? I think they should at least cover the cost of road highway construction and maintenance, and probably also a significant fraction of wars in the Middle East. Currently they don't even cover the former.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Aa said...

I'm with Pete Mack here. It's a commodity that has costs associated with it so simply tax it.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

You know, it's not that I'm all that decided on this sort of thing. It's that (a) on the factual side, I don't believe that soda is any worse than sugar in any other form (a friend of mine used to do research related to that stuff). Also (b) I don't trust governmental decrees about nutrition anymore. And (c) I am inclined to be cynical about such efforts to micromanage our actions. It's not that I'm against taxes on booze and smokes and gas...it's more like (straightforwardly empirical matters to the side) I've become somewhat more suspicious of such things, and the soda ban seems to me to be emblematic of them.

So I'm making fun of it...but not necessarily expressing a solemn commitment based on deep policy analysis.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only externality I can think of with sugar is additional health care costs from obesity, but then we should tax virtually all food outside celery to cover that cost properly. Or tax people who don't exercise. Or cap and trade calories (we're already reaching reductio ad absurdum here). But even then, we already have decent transfers to deal with health costs in the form of medicare taxes which could be tweaked. It just isn't the same class as possibly getting lung cancer from second hand smoke, which has no existing transfer and is easily attributable to a single cause (so effectively taxable).

Gasoline taxes are reasonable insofar as they cover pollution/climate change externalities. I doubt we want to disincentivize virtually all economic activity to pay for infrastructure meant to grow the economy through a gas tax. The geopolitical cost of gasoline is born more by having our navy safeguard seaborn trade routes, and in a fair world, virtually every nation would pay us for that benefit rather than us tax our own consumption.

2:59 PM  

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