The soda tax has long been the food police’s favorite thin end of the fat wedge. So it’s not surprising that when the City of Chicago went looking for some extra cash, it considered the misguided policy. Yesterday, a city council committee held a hearing on a proposal by Alderman George Cardenas to raise soda taxes by 15 to 35 cents per drink.
We hope Kelly “Twinkie Tax” Brownell didn’t get his hopes up, because the council decided not to adopt the drink tax—at least not yet. Chicago already puts Illinois’s maximum sales tax on soft drinks. And now the Chicago Sun-Times has weighed in and said that that maximum sales tax is more than enough “sin” taxing:
[...] a big tax on sugary drinks isn’t the answer.
That’s a nanny-state solution, one that says government must protect us from ourselves, one that doesn’t harness the power of everyday Americans to solve [weight problems] for themselves.
When the food activist community is trying harder than ever to convince people that they can’t solve their weight problems because they’re hopeless addicts, this dose of common sense is a genuine relief.
The supposed “solution” of the soda tax isn’t a solution at all. (It is the nanny state, but that’s another matter entirely.) Studies consistently show that a significant soda tax would reduce daily calorie intake by less than one percent of a daily intake. The real tax-and-spend motivation for the soda tax has little to do with cutting calories and everything to do with fattening government bureaucracy.
Of course, Brownell, who may be the tax’s most enthusiastic pusher, has said that “society does not have the luxury to await scientific certainty” before enacting his preferred obesity cures. As evidence and political will continues to mount against it, we eagerly await an admission that this supposed cure is just public-health snake oil.