The Gluttony Tax

I heard about the Americans Against Food Taxes website yesterday and decided to check them out. Here is a blurb from them:
We don't want government telling us what to eat or drink by taxing our food and beverages. We can decide what to buy without government help. If we let government tax beverages, who knows where it will end? The next time government wants to fund more programs, they'll just slap taxes on more of our groceries. Government needs to trim its budget fat and leave grocery budgets alone.
This all sounds very high minded and ideological until you consider that the list of their Coalition Members is a laundry list of companies like 7-Eleven, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Yum! and others who would be hurt by taxes on sugary food and drinks.

That aside, I do wonder what some would say if the government raised other taxes because it followed the anti-food-tax rationale and eliminated taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. I think that this kind of gluttony tax is probably in line with these other sin taxes.

All that said I have to admit that I would not support this tax unless it was accompanied by an actual reduction in another tax. Ha! Like that would ever happen!


  1. I have seen their ads on TV the last few days and I'm old enough and cynical enough to have assumed it was a group of beverage companies masquerading as a citizen's revolt against "unfair" taxes.

    I have mixed emotions about taxes on sugary drinks. I don't like the government telling informed adults what they can eat or drink. But, the money raised could be put to good use. As long as the taxes aren't too punitive, I'm not opposed to them. We've been doing this to cigarette smokers and alcohol drinkers for decades with so-called "sin taxes".

  2. If it is a given that we have to be taxed, I favor "sin taxes" because they try to make a link between bad behaviors and their associated costs to society. That said, I do not favor any new taxes unless there is a corresponding reduction of other taxes.

  3. I like the comment by brian, "the money raised could be put to good use" I think this is one of the most offensive things I have read in a long time and underlines the exact problem w/ government. The problem with "good use" is that it is subjective. I don't actually have faith in the government deciding "good use". Why can't I decide what the best use of my own money is. Why must this be left to a group of elites. Brian is making a value judgment that "good use" is not on sugary soda. Really where does it ever end with "good use" or better use rational for economic redistribution. Why should anyone get to make any choice on what things to buy if another person or coalition of people feel they know better on how to spend another persons money. To take brian's suggestion to its logical conclusion would be for me to work, though what would the point be, so that the government could then spend my labor.
    @Bob, I totally disagree with "sin" taxes. We have now seen that "sin" is just as subjective as brian's "good use" belief. For some, sin may be smoking and alcohol, which is now even expanding to some food that the ruling class believe is bad. Soon, the same ruling class will say that beef is a sin because of the harm it does to animals, or that farming is a sin because of the damage it does to the land... Some could say TV is a sin, or maybe just certain programs. It never ends. We have to ask ourselves why do we think the federal government needs to have these funds to begin with.

  4. @jrchaard - I am not a big proponent of taxes but do acknowledge the need for some taxes. It does seem that taxes on smokes makes sense because of the cost they have on the country. So I guess my criteria for a sin tax would be if there is a direct correlation to the product/activity and the negative cost impact to the country. Seems fairer than increasing the taxes on folks who do not smoke. What do you think about taxes on cigarettes? Would you be in favor of nixing that tax and increasing taxes for folks who do not smoke?

  5. Bob, you know where I come from. I don't think the gov should be in the business at all in taxing the way they do. Give them the money, you give them the power. Somehow we managed for 130 years or so through tarrifs. Our gov was small because their treasure chest was small, then we opened up our wallets and we see that their power has outstripped our wallets capacity. Essentially you are saying we should tax because of the negative impact it has on the country. The reason why it has a negative impact is that we have allowed people to be irresponsible with their lives because of this safety net. My premise is to cut the net, then you don't need the taxes. It will drive people to be more responsible. Isn't that what you want. I mean, the opposite is saying, do whatever you want because those that have made good choices will be there to provide for you.

  6. @jrchaard - So your answer is to undo the tax system? That seems like a way to not really deal with the reality of taxes and sin taxes in particular.

    My takeaway is that you would like taxes to be raised on everyone so that people can get cigarettes cheaper? Maybe the insurance companies should raise everyone's premiums and not give breaks to non-smokers?

  7. I think I'm a bit of a throwback, but I don't think it's the government's job to protect us from ourselves, whether it's with sin taxes or laws to stop people from walking and texting or with earphones in both ears. As we've neglected our own responsibility for ourselves and asked the government to take care of us, we've forgotten that all of that care takes money, and the only place the government can get money is us. I don't have any problem with programs for those who can't help themselves, but don't say you're going to do things that you know will harm you and ask other people to bail you out.

  8. In Australia, when, quite some years ago, we introduced a universal sales tax, the 'Goods and services tax" (GST) there was huge debate over what would and wouldn't be taxed. The end result was that things deemed essential are tax-exempt (prescription medicines, doctors' fees etc)When it comes to food, all basic foods for home cooking (meat, fruit and veg, pantry staples etc) are tax exempt -- anything that classifies as pre-prepared food has the 10% tax on it. Further taxes on 'bad' foods have been suggested, but I don't think there'sa much public support. Oh, and by the way, a miracle happened and income tax actually went down a couple of percentage points when the GST came in


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