Things go better without Coke

By John Burke | Related entries in Food, New York, Taxes

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On Wednesday, New York’s Governor David Patterson unveiled a proposed $121-billion budget for next year, which includes a barrage or 88 new or higher taxes and fees to help close a $15.4-billion gap. Among the new revenue raisers are an “I-Pod tax” on downloaded music, sales taxes on cable and satellite TV, new taxes on movie tickets, taxi rides, beer, wine, cigars and massages, and my favorite, an “obesity tax” on sugared soda. So lay off the Coke, unless it’s sugar free. The Governor says it’s bad for you.

An astonishing number of otherwise sensible people have jumped in to agree with Patterson that the approximately 18% tax on Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper with sugar is just what the doctor ordered so that New Yorkers can shed the zillion pounds of fat we’re carrying around.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof opined instantly to the effect that sugary drinks are the new cigarettes. Whereas “some scholars believe they have become a major source of obesity,” he wrote, a daily dose of root beer will kill you dead. One such concerned scholar he relies on is — I could not make this up — “Barry Popkin, a nutrition specialist at the University of North Carolina and author of the excellent new book, ‘The World Is Fat’.”

Here’s the thing about all this: like millions of other Americans, I’ve been trying to lose — or keep off — some ugly, unwanted fat for years. But the number of sugared sodas I drank in the past three decades you could count on your fingers. I don’t need no damn Coke to stay fat! Give me ice cream, pasta, potatoes, fried chicken, candy, pie, cake, cookies, tarts, Danishes, bagels with cream cheese, ribs dripping with sauce, quiche, Big Macs, turkey with dressing, eggs benedict, more gravy, extra helpings — and I can manage to stay quite fat enough, thank you.

Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg, I already have to read the number of calories contained in every Starbucks muffin I buy. Now, the handwriting is on the wall:

– First they taxed Coke, and I said nothing, because I didn’t drink Coke.

– Then, they rationed donuts, and I said nothing, because I don’t like donuts.

– Then, they banned Big macs, and I said nothing, because I can live without McDonalds.

– Then, finally??? I dunno where it all ends.

But I’m getting hungry.  I need to go get a snack.

(Visit me at The Purple Center)


This entry was posted on Friday, December 19th, 2008 and is filed under Food, New York, Taxes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

8 Responses to “Things go better without Coke”

  1. TerenceC Says:

    Hillarious post! There’s nothing else left to tax. Last year I added up all the taxes I pay as a percentage of income and it came in around 54% of my earnings go out in taxes. Income tax (state, federal, and city), sales tax, those 3 different lodging taxes in NY City hotels, gas tax, road tolls, property tax, county tax, cell phones, cable, internet access, even death has a tax. There are NOT two constants in the universe – there are three – death, taxes and stupidity!

  2. kranky kritter Says:

    Bummer, you beat me to it under the fold. I was going to drop a “first they came for the smokers…” chautauqua, but you stole my thunder.

    I find this kind of neopuritanism frightening. Because it shows how most folks don’t pay much attention to history, and how willingly they’ll go down a path of dictating what’s good for everyone (everyone ELSE, that is.

    And you get a blank look from most folks when you try to give them a “next, they’ll go after x” argument. Wait’ll the bean counting reaches new levels in the next generation, and you get a bill in the mail for a $59 health insurance surcharge for the previous month, because that twinkie you bought on the 29th put you over your June quota.

    Anyone else wonder why the soda tax doesn’t affect, oh, let’s say, the sales of JUICE BOXES? Crammed with sugar, generating mountains of trash, difficult to recycle? I’ll tell you why, because folks wouldn’t stand for it. So the real reason why NY is getting as oda tax is because they aren’t enough folks who refuse to tolerate such nonsense.

    The really comical thing about the soda tax is that it’s targeted at the last generation. Soda’s share of the beverage market peaked years ago. The current trend in beverages (as in most food) is to suggest that hydration is an opportunity to self-medicate by managing your health and your mood and your energy. So if you pay $2 for a vitamin water instead of $1 for a coke, you’ll get some vitamins and some clever marketing prose on the label that pats you on the back for putting vitamins in your koolaid to crap out later that day.

    If politicians really wanted to do everyday folks a favor, instead of just generate revenue under the guise of social engineering, what they’d do is pass a rule requiring all food and beverage outlets to sell at least one type of 12 or 16 oz bottles of water for 50 cents or 5% above cost. That way, thirsty folks wouldn’t get routinely screwed. Or they could even sell that mandated lower cost plain-jane water for a buck and direct the proceeds to one specific budget need, like say the local school budget.

  3. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Come on, guys…don’t you want to be patriotic like good’ole Joe Biden says? Besides, now that there is a tax on soft-drinks and fast food or whatever, I say everyone go out and binge! That way you give away more money to the government so they can spend their way out of our recession, and as you get fatter and more unhealthy, there will be even more need to regulate your behavior, which means new taxes. It makes me feel all red-white-and-bluey just thinking about it!

  4. kranky kritter Says:

    That’s brilliant Jimmi. Truly brilliant. If paying taxes is patriotic, and they are now taxing soda and fast food, then clearly drinking soda and eating french fries is patriotic.

    Just as clearly, eating organic bean sprouts and drinking soy milk? Unpatriotic! I always suspected this, but it’s nice to see a proof. Thanks Joe Biden, for helping me to see the light.

    You made my day, Jimmi!

  5. ExiledIndependent Says:

    Good posts. On a more serious note, I’d recommend taking a look at the demographics for full-calorie soda drinkers. This is nothing more more than a poor tax, similar to lottery tickets. Way to look out for the little guy, Patterson.

    Of course, this might just usher in a golden age of soda becoming a luxury item. Or taboo, sort of like a high-fructose speakeasy. The possible unintended consequences thrill the imagination….

  6. blackoutyears Says:

    Not to mention, Kranky, that Vitaminwater has two tablespoons of crystalline fructose in each bottle. Anyone taxing that sugar consumption? Of course, Glaceau is owned by Coca-Cola, so they’ll be paying via one channel at least . I do have to disagree with your idea of the water mandate, if only because of the issue of all the plastic water bottles cluttering up the planet. One of the few things my employer does right is provide a water cooler. There should be a reasonable alternative to the tens of millions of plastic water bottles that are trashed, rather than recycled, every day.

  7. Chris Says:

    I have no problem taxing people who don’t take care of themselves, and then end up using up our hospital beds with their uninsured asses.

  8. kranky kritter Says:

    Well blackout, I don’t have the energy to fight folks’ unnatural fear of germs, which is why public water coolers are right out. And I kinda doubt that providing low-cost water would actually increase the number of plastic bottles. It would just change them from $2 vitaminwater bottles to plain water bottles. And if, as expected these were cheapest, thinnest bottles imaginable, tit might even slightly reduce the amount of plastic in the waste stream. I could even be down with a high deposit cost on bottles of low cost water, thereby encouraging instant recycling.

    Chris, did you ever take the time to wonder whether the people who “aren’t taking caring of themselves” are eager to pay extra SS taxes to pay for health zealots who want to live until they are 80 or 90? All the people who don’t take care of themselves and die in their late 60s and early 70s save the taxpayers a bunch of money in the long run. Anyone who wants to make an argument based on taxpayer cost is required to count ALL expenditures.

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