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If you’re beginning to see a pattern—the repeal of the Danish fat-tax and the rejection of soda taxes in two very different parts of California—then consider, too, that a lawsuit challenging New York City’s looming soda ban (which I’ve written about for Reason here and here) is currently in its early stages.
If repeal of the fat tax is part of a larger movement against policies that restrict food freedom, it’s also noteworthy who is leading this backlash.
Take Denmark. The fat tax came about under a “right-wing government” that is no longer in power. A ruling coalition of three left-of-center parties, meanwhile—the Social Democrats, Social Liberals, and the Socialist People’s Party—is responsible for scrapping the fat tax.
In New York City, an unelected health department board made up entirely of appointees of Republican-turned-Independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg voted unanimously to approve the soda ban with the mayor’s full support. The broad coalition suing to overturn the soda ban, on the other hand, includes the local Teamsters union.
And in California, the same Richmond voters who re-elected President Obama by a 2-1 margin (extrapolating from Contra Costa County data) and who elected a Green Party mayor six years ago rejected the city’s soda tax measure by a 2-1 margin. Similar numbers hold true in El Monte.
It’s perhaps too early to offer a conclusion about what all this means. Suffice to say that the facts show that some of the primary opposition to restrictions on food freedom is coming from people and groups that typically reside on the left--sometimes even in response to regulations proposed and enacted by their more conservative counterparts.
There’s been much talk of late of a growing “food movement”—one that would use the power of government to restrict and shape our food choices—and whether it yields real power.
I think Denmark's elected officials, California's voters, and New York City's Teamsters have shown there is a food movement. But it is not a movement that seeks to use government to punish some food choices over others. Instead, the real food movement—a positive campaign that embraces freedom of choice—is demonstrating its growing and widespread power.