Sugar taxes

justincredible Honorable Admin
37,969 posts 201 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 10:57 AM

I see that Seattle has added a 1.75¢ per ounce tax on sugary beverages (see meme thread) starting on Jan 1. These planners don't seem to understand economic incentives. People that are apt to buy sugary beverages likely aren't going to stop (some will, sure), they will take their money outside of the city, and likely start buying a portion of their other groceries outside of the city as well. If I were a grocer outside of the city limits I'd be pretty happy with this new tax.

 


justincredible Honorable Admin
37,969 posts 201 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 10:58 AM

gut Senior Member
18,369 posts 93 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 11:07 AM

Yeah, there will be plenty of incentive to avoid it (legal and otherwise).

Now, a sugar tax is arguably as justifiable as alcohol or tobacco taxes.  And this is what happens when you have public healthcare and other subsidies - you have to start allocating those costs, some way, to people who's lifestyles choices increase those costs.

And so just to cut to the chase - ultimately, Seattle will need to raise other tax revenues in order to provide additional food stamp benefits for poor people...so that poor people can afford the new sugar tax.

superman Senior Member
4,377 posts 69 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 11:14 AM
posted by justincredible

I see that Seattle has added a 1.75¢ per ounce tax on sugary beverages (see meme thread) starting on Jan 1. These planners don't seem to understand economic incentives. People that are apt to buy sugary beverages likely aren't going to stop (some will, sure), they will take their money outside of the city, and likely start buying a portion of their other groceries outside of the city as well. If I were a grocer outside of the city limits I'd be pretty happy with this new tax.

 

When I was growing up,  my patents were friends with a guy who managed a Kroger in the Toledo area.  The parking lot was actually in Michigan.  On big holiday weekends, they couldn't keep soda and beer on the shelves because of all the people from Michigan coming to avoid the bottle deposit.   

ernest_t_bass 12th Son of the Lama
26,698 posts 199 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 11:54 AM
posted by gut

 

Now, a sugar tax is arguably as justifiable as alcohol or tobacco taxes. 

 

No. Just no. 

BoatShoes Senior Member
5,991 posts 23 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 12:01 PM
posted by justincredible

I see that Seattle has added a 1.75¢ per ounce tax on sugary beverages (see meme thread) starting on Jan 1. These planners don't seem to understand economic incentives. People that are apt to buy sugary beverages likely aren't going to stop (some will, sure), they will take their money outside of the city, and likely start buying a portion of their other groceries outside of the city as well. If I were a grocer outside of the city limits I'd be pretty happy with this new tax.

 

It is generally accepted that taxes on behavior X reduce said behavior relative to a world w/o such tax (or induce avoidance). That is what supply-side economics is all about - taxes on capital income and labor income theoretically reduce the supply of capital and labor, etc. 

 As far as sugar taxes go, sugar consumption has fallen in Mexico since the tax was introduced. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/feb/22/mexico-sugar-tax-lower-consumption-second-year-running

I will add however that I doubt the municipal level is the best level to implement such a tax as tax avoidance is much easier. 

In any case, taxes on goods that have negative external costs not born by their producers like taxes on sugar are much more preferable to taxes on income and consumption. 

gut Senior Member
18,369 posts 93 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 12:02 PM
posted by ernest_t_bass

No. Just no. 

Why not?  Sugar's role in diabetes and obesity is pretty well documented, and those diseases impose significant healthcare costs on the public just like alcohol and tobacco.  Where do you think the justification for "sin taxes" comes from?

justincredible Honorable Admin
37,969 posts 201 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 12:03 PM

I'll certainly agree that taxes on income are much worse (read: the worst).

BoatShoes Senior Member
5,991 posts 23 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 12:04 PM
posted by ernest_t_bass

 

No. Just no. 

Not an argument. Sugar consumption and its associated health problems is a larger cause of premature death than either alcohol or tobacco. 

QuakerOats Senior Member
11,701 posts 55 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 12:12 PM

Ban sugar 

Heretic Son of the Sun
20,517 posts 190 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 12:15 PM
posted by gut

Yeah, there will be plenty of incentive to avoid it (legal and otherwise).

Now, a sugar tax is arguably as justifiable as alcohol or tobacco taxes.  And this is what happens when you have public healthcare and other subsidies - you have to start allocating those costs, some way, to people who's lifestyles choices increase those costs.

And so just to cut to the chase - ultimately, Seattle will need to raise other tax revenues in order to provide additional food stamp benefits for poor people...so that poor people can afford the new sugar tax.

Yep. I remember once going to Cleveland during the college years and getting educated on their "sin tax" on alcohol by having to pay extra for beer (not a huge amount more, but for a college student, every extra dollar matters!) at some store. And let's face it, it's BS for any gubment to try to steer people away from certain products by over-taxing the shit out of them as part of an attempt to generate more revenue, so if they're going to do it for a couple things, then fuck it...do it to the shitty sugar drinks and shitty fast food, too.

Best to not do it for anything, but if you're going to do it for something, let the pop-guzzlers feel the pinch and not just us boozers! If you want the tl;dr version.

MontyBrunswick Senior Member
1,065 posts 15 reps Joined Mar 2015
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 12:22 PM

The only positive argument for a sugar tax is to dump the revenue generated back into health related programs. 

Unfortunately, that rarely happens and it tends to be a revenue generator for cities that are broke. See: Chicago

I'm willing to bet that while sales of sugary drinks fall in cities where a sugar tax is passed, the overall rate of obesity remains unchanged.

Spock Senior Member
5,271 posts 9 reps Joined Jul 2013
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 12:24 PM

What they fail to understand is that not all sugar products are as bad as others.  Taxing a nutrient dense food like gatorade (milk has sugar in it also, they gonna tax that?)  is stupid.

Taxing empty calorie/high sugar/added sugar products would be ok (NY state soda tax) is what needs to be done to reduce the obesity/healthcare issues with over consuming sugar.  

 

gut Senior Member
18,369 posts 93 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 12:27 PM
posted by Heretic

Best to not do it for anything, but if you're going to do it for something, let the pop-guzzlers feel the pinch and not just us boozers! If you want the tl;dr version.

Unfortunately, sin taxes are a "negative externality" of social welfare programs.  But just wait until we go to single payer and then Big Gubmit starts dictating where healthcare research dollars are spent.

Also, I don't believe any taxes like this really have anything to do with discouraging behavior....even if there is actually merit, it's nothing more than a way to justify a tax increase.  And the effectiveness in either case (health or revenues), is probably a distant second or third to the political agenda.

MontyBrunswick Senior Member
1,065 posts 15 reps Joined Mar 2015
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 12:28 PM
posted by Spock

nutrient dense food like gatorade.  

 

Lol

justincredible Honorable Admin
37,969 posts 201 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 12:29 PM
posted by MontyBrunswick

Lol

justincredible Honorable Admin
37,969 posts 201 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 12:31 PM

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/22/philadelphias-soda-tax-isnt-the-windfall-some-had-hoped-for.html

Philly's tax is not going as well as hoped.

Dr Winston O'Boogie Senior Member
3,345 posts 25 reps Joined Oct 2010
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 12:47 PM
posted by Heretic

Yep. I remember once going to Cleveland during the college years and getting educated on their "sin tax" on alcohol by having to pay extra for beer (not a huge amount more, but for a college student, every extra dollar matters!) at some store. And let's face it, it's BS for any gubment to try to steer people away from certain products by over-taxing the shit out of them as part of an attempt to generate more revenue, so if they're going to do it for a couple things, then fuck it...do it to the shitty sugar drinks and shitty fast food, too.

Best to not do it for anything, but if you're going to do it for something, let the pop-guzzlers feel the pinch and not just us boozers! If you want the tl;dr version.

The good thing is how Cleveland has been able to spend much of its sin tax - on subsitdizing the Browns and their stadium.  What a joke.

gut Senior Member
18,369 posts 93 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 1:23 PM
posted by justincredible

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/22/philadelphias-soda-tax-isnt-the-windfall-some-had-hoped-for.html

Philly's tax is not going as well as hoped.

Not surprising.  You see that pretty much anywhere it's relatively "convenient" to travel 20-30 miles to get a better price.

What's disgusting is the BS given about this being for "health".  Such a tax is not effective on the local level (see above) at discouraging use, and as far as health that's a state cost - the state should be assessing and collecting it statewide to help subsidize health costs.

This is nothing more than big gubmit cities (almost always pretty liberal cities) looking for new tax revenues to fund their monstrous budget shortfalls. 

O-Trap Chief Shenanigans Officer
18,909 posts 140 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 1:39 PM
posted by ernest_t_bass

 

No. Just no. 

How is it different?

posted by BoatShoes

Not an argument. Sugar consumption and its associated health problems is a larger cause of premature death than either alcohol or tobacco. 

 

As I recall, diabetes complications kill more people each year than any effects from tobacco or alcohol.

posted by gut

Unfortunately, sin taxes are a "negative externality" of social welfare programs.  But just wait until we go to single payer and then Big Gubmit starts dictating where healthcare research dollars are spent.

Also, I don't believe any taxes like this really have anything to do with discouraging behavior....even if there is actually merit, it's nothing more than a way to justify a tax increase.  And the effectiveness in either case (health or revenues), is probably a distant second or third to the political agenda.

Agreed.

And quite frankly, even if the reason was entirely to discourage behavior, is it really a justified purpose of  taxation to act as a social manipulator?

 

gut Senior Member
18,369 posts 93 reps Joined Nov 2009
Fri, Jan 5, 2018 2:16 PM
posted by O-Trap

...even if the reason was entirely to discourage behavior, is it really a justified purpose of  taxation to act as a social manipulator?

That's the outcome of social welfare....as soon as other people have to share YOUR healthcare costs, then we have to debate whether you pay your "fair share" of extra costs for bad lifestyle choices.

If you pay 100% of your healthcare costs and your insurance company wants to charge you more for being overweight, then so be it.  Then there's no need to tax sugar because the free market already handles it.  And if you consume sugar in moderation but are otherwise healthy, then you probably pay nothing extra (as it should be).  Remarkably simple, until the gubmit gets involved.

Once you start down the road of "boo-hoo, the free market isn't perfect" you end-up struggling to fix all the problems the govt creates coming up with solutions in search of problems.....cross your fingers and hope most people, on average, are better off after the govt intervenes to "help".

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