The federal government and individual state governments are facing widespread budget falls for this fiscal year and the next. It’s a pity spending less is not in the left-wing toolbox of solutions. Instead, we face possible taxes on unhealthy foods from the federal government as discussed this week at the Center for Disease Control’s first ever Weight of the Nation conference.
The conference’s stated goals include exploring “law-based efforts to prevent and control obesity” and published a report recommending policy be put in place to eliminate unhealthy food choices, to force portion sizes to be reduced, to set lower prices for healthier foods in public venues, and to implement stricter advertising control.
The suggested means in which to equalize prices between “health” and “unhealthy” food and to provide “incentives” to achieve these other goals is through government policy and new taxes. This is just the beginning of the new tax craze to help make up for budget deficits across the nation, as CDC Director Thomas Frieden suggested a tax on sugary drinks as a possible solution in efforts to decrease availability and increase costs of foods deemed “unhealthy.”
While potentially increasing revenues, this concept is one that leads down the ominous slippery slope to the nanny state, dictating what the government allows us to consume. Other new taxes proposed by states also seem to have at best unintended consequences leading to an expanded role of government in private affairs and at worst a calculated attempt to use the deficit as means of further means of control over citizens.
On a state level, New York has considered such a fat tax, as well as taxes on a number of other everyday goods and services to make ends meet. California has also tried to tax away our vices with an increased tax on cigarettes and proposed taxes on marijuana for recreational (which would also require legalizing it first) and medicinal use. Many states have considered gambling taxes and in Georgia, strip club taxes were debated.
Amidst the Obama crusade to give everyone affordable health care, there’s even talk of taxing insurance plans over a certain amount. Taxes on these specific items have an underlying agenda beyond balancing the budget. Both state and federal governments are doing their best to dictate what food you eat, the amount of health care coverage you receive, and what vices you may or may not partake in.
More taxation and government control hurt consumers and businesses alike. It’s one more reason to start demanding personal responsibility — and fiscal responsibility too.