We’d like to offer a “hear, hear!” to Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi for seeing through the anti-soda agenda of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Harsanyi recognizes CSPI’s “sin tax” proposal for what it is: social engineering to punish people who have the gall to order a soda with their meal.
In his weekly column, he writes:
Soda can be harmful, it can be harmless and it is always tasty with a cheese-infused burrito — which we should affix with a massive "discouragement" tax if we’re going to be consistent about our gut-busting peccadilloes.
The selective tax would also pursue energy and fruit drinks, but not politically correct, high-everything beverages like Frappuccinos. No one wants a violent insurrection in the malls and trendy urban cores of America.
Harsanyi also points out that CSPI is “the group that once laughably claimed 150,000 people perish yearly from salt intake (the ‘Forgotten Killer’), despite [the] lack of any evidence and the ongoing debate regarding the real effect of sodium.” CSPI was still clinging to this 150,000 number as recently as Tuesday, when executive director Michael Jacobson spoke to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee about installing these sin taxes.
Frustrated that people refuse to see soda through their obesity-tinted glasses, activist groups like CSPI instead try to levy taxes against sweet beverages to forcibly make their point through your wallet. But the Senate Finance Committee might be interested in knowing that taxes on soda are hugely politically unpopular.
Governor David Paterson of New York felt the wrath of his constituents when he proposed an 18 percent tax on sugary drinks. New York City health czar Thomas Frieden picked up where Gov. Paterson left off and lobbied for a penny-an-ounce tax on soda – also unpopular. Numerous polls have indicated that consumers overwhelmingly resent such punitive taxes, yet food cops continue to pursue them.
Demonizing soda has proven time and again to do nothing in the fight against obesity. So why is CSPI continuing to beat a dead horse?