Big Apple Tax Bite

Growing up, there was a policy in the Mangu-Ward household known as the "tax bite." When mom or dad—mostly dad—helped a kid open a package or bottle, they'd take a cut. A single potato chip, a sip of Coke, a bite of ice cream—each vanished as part of the brutal "tax bite" regime. This is probably why I became a libertarian.

This week, New York is discussing instituting its own tax bite:

Gov. Paterson, as part of a $121 billion budget to be unveiled Tuesday, will propose an "obesity tax" of about 15% on nondiet drinks.

This means a Diet Coke might sell for a $1 - even as the same size bottle of its calorie-rich alter ego would go for $1.15.

People. How many time must we go over this? Soda doesn't make you fat. Calories make you fat. Yes, soda contains calories. But so do all other foods. The fine folks at Coca-Cola are powerful indeed, but they are not single-handedly making Americans chunky, and it's absurd to pretend that they're somehow more culpable than the makers of all-natural peanut butter, or high-end truffles. Or, you know, hot dogs.

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  • semm||

    Good story, also now I want a nice coke and dog damnit.

  • ||

    Ugh. Artifically making a product that will make me sick (diet soda with NutraSweet; aspartame gives me migraines) cheaper than one that doesn't (regular soda)...

    ...if I were in NY after that passed, I'm sure there'd be more than a couple of occasions where I'd risk sickness to avoid being taxed.

    But why should I have to?

  • ||

    Big Aspartame strikes again.

  • ||

    diet soda with NutraSweet; aspartame gives me migraines

    Screw you.

  • EJM||

    ...the makers of all-natural peanut butter, or high-end truffles. Or, you know, hot dogs.

    Please don't give the New York state government any ideas for its next targets.

  • ||

    I predict that NYC will soon implement a calorie added tax.

  • nebby||

    I guess it really comes down to whether you are OK with "sin" taxes. Junk food is a luxury item and I have no problem with voluntary taxes on things like luxury items (as long as we are going to have anything incentivized or discouraged through taxes.)

    Calories are a unit of heat, but saying all calories are the same is stupid. The calories you consume in a coke could be used consuming foods that contain nutritional value exceeding the act of pouring sugar in your mouth. If you don't get that you are probably fat.

    As you suggest, drawing the line on what is junk food can be difficult. Sodas are an easy call however.

  • Oz||

    dirty fucking bastards. I never realized how brilliant the movie Demolition Man was until just now. We are definitely going to be eating dry dog food and having virtual sex very soon.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    As part of our Puritan heritage, Americans have always loved sin taxes. We're simply redefining sin, that's all. What's wrong with that?

    We'll tax "common" fat foods, but not classy ones. We should also tax stretch pants and other clothes that encourage fatness (because obesity enabling is a deadly sin!), and pretty much anything that cool people like us don't do!

    By the way, when I was growing up it was we kids who applied the "tax bite," or rather tax sip. When Dad and his friends were sitting out in the back yard we would (frequently) be sent in to fetch a can of beer. Our reward was a sip of National Boe. This is why I became a fucking socialist.

  • Oz||

    well, I guess there's always illegal sewer rat burgers...

  • ||

    I can't fuckin' stand diet soda.* I'm 5'10" and 145 lbs and need all of the fucking calories I can get. Perhaps the NY governor knows more about what would be better food choices for me than I do, but I seriously doubt it.

    Haven't we libertarians been warning y'all?Suck it up fatties. You're next.

    * I only drink a dozen or so per year, $1.80 in taxes if I buy them in NY.

  • </||

    I guess it really comes down to whether you are OK with "sin" taxes. Junk food is a luxury item and I have no problem with voluntary taxes on things like luxury items (as long as we are going to have anything incentivized or discouraged through taxes.)

    *....looks around confused.....*

    What blog coments am I on?

  • Ska||

    I'm with mad mike on this one. Your body can process sugar better than it can process the fake shit in diet soda. I switched from diet soda back to regular soda with no impact on my weight. I *gasp* drink more water, and only have a regular sized soda every so often instead of a diet soda all the time.

    Oddly enough this was an application of a decision I made, as opposed to some kind of bullshit sugar tarriff.

  • nebby||

    Really? You would give yourself a migraine to avoid a 15 cent expenditure? Whatever floats your boat.

    The whole point is you don't have to pay this tax if you don't want to. Have an iced tea, or water, or a lemonade if you simply must load up on sugar. I will save my ire for taxes I can't avoid with trivial effort.

    (I know all taxes are evil, yadda yadda.)

  • ||

    Junk food is a luxury item and I have no problem with voluntary taxes on things like luxury items (as long as we are going to have anything incentivized or discouraged through taxes.)

    Give this man a studio apartment (bathroom down the hall), a change of clothing, and a bowl of beans and rice.

    Everything else is a luxury and should be taxed at a 15% rate. Carbon footprint, depleting the world's resources etc. He should be paying for that.

  • nebby||

    "*....looks around confused.....*

    What blog coments am I on?"

    Some people who read reason can actually prioritize. Outrage at police shooting grannies and the government tapping your phone lines does not automatically equal spittle flecked fervor over minute aspects of the tax system.

  • nebby||

    "Everything else is a luxury and should be taxed at a 15% rate. Carbon footprint, depleting the world's resources etc. He should be paying for that."

    Isn't this the current system? Your suggestion would result in a huge tax decrease for me, so bring it on.

    One note, beans and rice alone can't be considered decent nutrition. Vegetables are a necessity and not a luxury. Of course, it is a long long way from a few extra pennies on your soda to the virtual hairshirt, but keep living the dream.

  • ||

    Ah, my favorite junk food story...

    Sitting in a 5pm-7pm class. Before the first break the 5'5" 260lb woman in front of me consumed a 1-liter of regular Mountain Dew, two Pop-Tarts, and an entire tall can of Pringles.

    On the break, she moaned to some of her friends: "I keep trying and trying but I can't seem to lose this baby weight."

  • ||

    Vegetables are a necessity and not a luxury

    But vegetables in what FORM?

    Anyway, my brother-in-law is still alive and he doesn't eat vegetables. Necessity?

  • Tsu Dho Nihm||

    Ska,
    I know a few people who switched back to regular soda who actually lost weight.

    Besides, artificial sweeteners seriously fuck with your metabolism.

  • ||

    Screw you.

    We've gone over this... I have no problems with other sugar-free sweeteners (sucralose, acesulfame potassium, etc.), just aspartame makes me violently ill for some reason. Of course, so long as it's aspartame in most any diet pop, that kinda limits one's options...

  • ||

    We are definitely going to be eating dry dog food and having virtual sex very soon.

    Hmm. I find this proposal intriguing. I assume this is a both-or-neither type offer?

  • libertarian democrat||

    i LIKE aspartame. Still stupid.

  • ||

    To give Paterson some credit, it's not like he would have done this if it weren't for the fact that New York State is in need of some serious cash. They are even looking at cutting education spending and raising tuition at the public universities (which, btw, is very low).

    Still - HAHA! NY!

    If I'm the retailer, I raise my prices to be even for all of my products and just eat the $.15 tax on the regular sodas and make up for it with charging more on the diets. Bring'em all up to a flat $1.25 after tax rate and most everyone will moan about how prices are going up, but nobody will remember it's because of a tax.

  • ||

    madmikefisk,

    Just kidding around. My aversion to emoticons is a drain on clear communication occasionally.

    As for a real comment on topic... I'll never drink a regular soda until normal circumstances, and I still think this tax is a bad idea. A soda tax is the thin edge of the wedge; if you don't believe me, light up a cigarette on a plane the next time you fly.

  • ||

    under normal circumstances

    stupid fingers

  • ||

    Isn't this the current system? Your suggestion would result in a huge tax decrease for me, so bring it on.

    Ah, to be so young and innocent. When government imposes sin taxes, they almost never cut other taxes. The greedy bastards want to soak you for as much as you'll sit still for.

  • ||

    And in Hawaii, the soda tax was sold as being for Teh Environmentz -- they taxed ALL bottles, not just soda.

    But, it was still all about generating tax revenue under the guise of "doing good."

  • ||

    In the interests of being completely fair:

    Calories are calories, but some calories are worse than others. In particular, calories in soft drinks are:

    (1) Non-filling. They do not lead to a sense of satiety as an equivalent caloric amount of food would. Therefore, they are likely to be additional calories, over and above what you'd take in anyway from other sources, rather than replacing those alternate calories.

    (2) Non-nutritive. Soft drinks supply few, if any, essential nutrients. In other words, they're empty calories.

    (3) Diabetes-inducing. Soft drinks contain simple sugars which are rapidly absorbed by the body. This results in an insulin spike. Over time this leads to insulin resistance, which is generally accepted to be a forerunner to Type-II diabetes.

    (4) In Mega-portions. The standard serving size listed on the size of a bottle is generally 8 oz. Try getting an 8 oz. serving. So, unless you majored in math, you're also likely to "misunderestimate" just how much crap you're pouring through your pie-hole at every feeding.

    With all that said, libertarian personal choice property rights yadda yadda, I choose not to consume any of this stuff of my own accord, simply because it's so bad. In other words, I don't need a stinkin' tax to tell me what's bad for me.

    Not that I'm a health nut; this is just one of those things that's so bad that I choose to cut it out of my diet.

    It's water for me, most of the time (also saves $$$).

    My general rule is, if I'm going to drink any calories, there better be some alcohol in it for me too.

  • ||

    One note, beans and rice alone can't be considered decent nutrition. Vegetables are a necessity and not a luxury. Of course, it is a long long way from a few extra pennies on your soda to the virtual hairshirt, but keep living the dream.

    Wow, you are a colossal douchebag. Maybe Obama can make you Health Czar.

  • ||

  • NoStar||

    The stupidity of this can't be understated.
    For people without type 1 diabetes, artificial sweeteners by tasting sweet fool the brain into producing more insulin. The extra insulin helps the body to burn sugar resulting in hypoglycemia and increased hunger.

    Diet sodas are a major factor in the weight gains seen since the 1950's when they were introduced to unsuspecting consumers.

  • ||

    By the way, if you consumed 1500 calories a day of red beans and rice (what I'm eating here at my desk), it would be extremely nutritional.


    Total Fat 54%
    Saturated Fat 60%
    Cholesterol 12%
    Sodium 186%
    Potassium 66%
    Total Carbohydrate 78%
    Dietary Fiber 47g 186%
    Protein 50g 102%

    Vitamin A 0 %
    Vitamin C 30 %
    Calcium 30 %
    Iron 78 %
    Vitamin D 0 %
    Vitamin E 0 %
    Thiamin 78 %
    Riboflavin 36%
    Niacin 54 %
    Folate 156%
    Vitamin B-6 42 %
    Vitamin B-12 0 %
    Phosphorus 90%
    Magnesium 66 %
    Zinc 42 %
    Copper 72%

    The salt can be controlled and a simple multivitamin would take care of the slight vitamin deficiencies. A couple of carrots and a glass of orange juice wouldn't hurt.

  • nannies-r-us||

    This is just the first step towards a real obesity tax. Eventually, we will institute mandatory weigh-ins with taxes levied as appropriate.

  • short, fat bastard||

    The blind nigger should keep his fingers in his own pockets.

  • stuartl||

    Give this man a studio apartment (bathroom down the hall), a change of clothing, and a bowl of beans and rice.

    Everything else is a luxury and should be taxed at a 15% rate. Carbon footprint, depleting the world's resources etc. He should be paying for that.


    Beans should be also be taxed at a higher rate since they increase your carbon footprint.

  • !||

    Beans should be also be taxed at a higher rate since they increase your carbon methane footprint.

  • ||

    So, unless you majored in math,

    You're right, it IS terribly difficult to do simple division and multiplication, especially if you went to public school.

    I agree with you, though- if you're going to drink a non-nutritive beverage, make it beer.

  • stuartl||

    ! -- I don't understand your correction. The chemical formula for methane is CH4. It is a greenhouse gas and it is oxidized in the atmosphere to produce CO2.

  • robc||

    I agree with you, though- if you're going to drink a non-nutritive beverage, make it beer.

    After I started homebrewing, Ive stopped buying soda at the store. Ive since mostly given it up when eating out, but I never have them at home anymore.

    Also, beer isnt non-nutritive, I would go with min-nutritive. Plus some cancer fighting bits.

  • ||

    Just reading the replies shows how much misinformation there is in the world of nutritional biochemistry. Letting beauracrats act as if they have any understanding of this issue is the epitome of naive.

  • Paul||

    Study Shows Sugar Is Just As Addictive As Cocaine, Heroin

    Study shows studies keep showing that stuff is "just as addictive as cocaine, heroin"

  • ||

    This is just a backdoor attempt to depress the market for consumable HFCS, to free up supplies for ethanol.

    Al Gore is behind it!

  • Bingo||

    Hrm by that logic maybe heroin and cocaine really aren't all that addictive??

    We should really look at endorphin regulation, can't have people being too happy you know.

  • mr simple||

    dirty fucking bastards. I never realized how brilliant the movie Demolition Man was until just now. We are definitely going to be eating dry dog food and having virtual sex very soon.

    Also, Ahnuld will be president. Time to start blowing stuff up.

  • ||

  • Travis||

    "Sitting in a 5pm-7pm class. Before the first break the 5'5" 260lb woman in front of me consumed a 1-liter of regular Mountain Dew, two Pop-Tarts, and an entire tall can of Pringles.

    On the break, she moaned to some of her friends: "I keep trying and trying but I can't seem to lose this baby weight."

    I tried that diet once, it didn't work for me either.

  • Salvius||

    I'd like to rephrase that headline:
    "Study shows cocaine, heroin no more addictive than sugar."

  • miche||

    By the way, if you consumed 1500 calories a day of red beans and rice (what I'm eating here at my desk), it would be extremely nutritional.



    I've got my red beans cooking right now. It's funny though that it was my husband who wanted them today; I guess he was trying to tell me to wash his laundry.

  • I never drink the stuff, but w||

    How hard is it to make pop at home? And is it/will it be illegal to do so?

  • ||

  • ||

    Also, beer isnt non-nutritive, I would go with min-nutritive. Plus some cancer fighting bits.

    Aye, good point. I picked up beer and wine in moderate amounts again on the advice of my physician- he wants to see if it'll affect my LDL/HDL ratio.

    I'm with ya on homebrewing, btw. It's a fantastically fascinating and fulfilling sort of hobby.

  • I never drink the stuff, but w||

    Oh good. Then I don't have to start a trend, and continue conserving my teeth, pancreas, etc., leaving other people to make bad choices. Whew.

  • ||

    I've got my red beans cooking right now. It's funny though that it was my husband who wanted them today; I guess he was trying to tell me to wash his laundry.

    Tuesday is Red Beans and Rice Laundry Day. Blasphemer! :o)

  • ||

    prolefeed,

    Not on a leap year, you calendar-ignorant nincompoop!

  • Naga Sadow||

    Wait! Is beer, wine, and liquor considered a "luxury"? Cuz I would consider them to be neccessities.

  • ||

    Naga,

    Take them as business write-offs. No taxes for bartenders for they are the best of us.

  • ||

    My VitaminWater has crystalline fructose in it (along with its vapor distilled deionized and/or reverse osmosis water). It just *sounds* too healthy to be taxed!

  • ||

    I propose calorie caps! We must reduce the national consumption of calories to 20% of 1990 levels by 2050 to avoid world starvation/obesity!

  • ||

    My VitaminWater has crystalline fructose in it (along with its vapor distilled deionized and/or reverse osmosis water). It just *sounds* too healthy to be taxed!

    Why the hell did Glaceau stop making the fruit-infused water? I loved those, and no calories.

  • No Name Guy||

    This boils down, simply, to: The nannies (of all stripes) just..... can't.....leave..... their.... fellow....... citizens....... alone.

    How much you want to bet most of the a$$holes pushing this crap can't / won't / don't even do ANYTHING remotely physical - mountain bike, hike, run, swim, climb, etc?

  • anarch||

    How much you want to bet most of the a$$holes pushing this crap can't / won't / don't even do ANYTHING remotely physical - mountain bike, hike, run, swim, climb, etc?



    Not quite. There's a (probably archaic) German slur for bureaucrat: "Bicyclist" - ie, someone who continually bows beneath those above him continually treads on those under him.

  • Jason Nelms||

    Another thing to remember in this is that there are people(like myself) that have health conditions which prevent us from being able to drink diet sodas. The sweeteners used are often times worse for the body than sugar.

    But this isn't about alternatives, it is about choice and people should be able to freely choose how fast and to what degree we damage our own damned bodies. I mean, if we do not have ownership of our body then what the heck do we own?

  • Jason Nelms||

    It looks like it is time to start making your own Cola in NY.

    Open Cola - the open sourced alternative to store bought Cola is a good place to start.

    Open Cola

  • miche||

    Au contraire Prolefeed; in NOLA Monday is washday. My only sin is not heading further East when I moved to away from Dallas. Nobody in this small town appreciates my particular brand of spicyness.

  • miche||

    moved away from dallas- just woke up from a nap and bad dream. Gawd! what a nightmare- somebody was trying to steal my blow.

    (I know, wrong thread for the blow comments.)

  • ||

    Why the hell did Glaceau stop making the fruit-infused water?

    Frankly, I am now seriously questioning your masculinity after that statement.

  • ||

    Frankly, I am now seriously questioning your masculinity after that statement.

    Says the guy drinking VitaminWater. Not only is your drink healthy, it's sweet. I bet you're a girl drink drunk, too. Have another Strawberry Daiquiri.

  • ||

    I think I've mentioned elsewhere that the public health issues tend to split down cultural lines determined by which vices each side has.

    Republican vices include fatty foods, cigarettes and liquor.
    Democratic vices include sex (including porn), drugs, and obnoxious music (rap, hip-hop, heavy metal).

    Over the decades, the culture wars have largly played out by way of each side trying to regulate the other guy's vices. Republicans want to clamp down on drugs, casual sex, porn, and music lyrics promoting violence, sex or suicide. Democrats want to stop everyone from smoking, drinking, eating hamburgers and cokes. Not to mention non-"organic" food.

    The "obesity tax" is really just another chapter in this on-going battle. The mirror image of warning labels on rap CDs and video games.

  • ed||

    BREAKING NEWS!

    Not really. I learned that from CNN.

  • ||

    Republican vices include fatty foods, cigarettes and liquor.
    Democratic vices include sex (including porn), drugs, and obnoxious music (rap, hip-hop, heavy metal).


    Well, that's just completely off base. Most smokers I know are on the left side of political spectrum to varying degrees. The left wingers I hang out with at work (ie. all of my co-workers) are pretty heavy drinkers. I'd probably be classified as right leaning libertarian and I'm into heavy metal (and pRon, don't forget the pRon). In other words, I think your generalization is so general as to be essentially useless in any further analysis.

  • snark for snark\'s sake||

    "The left wingers I hang out with at work (ie. all of my co-workers) are pretty heavy drinkers."

    Not surprising.

  • ||

    The whole point is you don't have to pay this tax if you don't want to. Have an iced tea, or water, or a lemonade if you simply must load up on sugar. I will save my ire for taxes I can't avoid with trivial effort.

    Unfortunately you'll pay the taxes on iced tea and lemonade, but really, why get anything other than tap water when you're in NYC, it's delicious!

    I'm with Peterson on this. But even if you could convince me this is a bad tax (madmike and nostar had some good arguments) I'd still be for banning soft drink sales to minors and banning all advertising to minors for that matter. Things are starting to get fucked up.

  • Head||

    Bah,

    I think I've mentioned elsewhere that the public health issues tend to split down cultural lines determined by which vices each side has.

    I think the right embraces booze, cigs, fatties because of their base: Tennesse, North Carolina, Georgia respectively.

    And vice versa for the Dems. Just playing to their base.

    Oh and EVERYONE likes porn.

  • ||

    But even if you could convince me this is a bad tax (madmike and nostar had some good arguments) I'd still be for banning soft drink sales to minors and banning all advertising to minors for that matter. Things are starting to get fucked up.

    Yeah. That NeHi Grape has got the younger generation all fucked up.

  • ||

    Karl, well you could also say that plenty of Republicans do drugs, and lots of Democrats hate mysogynistic rap lyrics.

    But then if you look at which interest groups are advocating for which things and which parties they tend to donate to, that's where you get the split.

    Anti-smoking groups donate to Democrats (regardless of how many Democratic smokers there really are). Anti-porn groups donate to Republicans (regardless of how many Republicans are actually avid porn consumers). Regulating musical lyrics tends to be a Republican Party concern. Regulating food content tends to be a Democratic Party concern.

    Both sides are pretty hypocricical when it comes to vices. I think that's sort of the nature of a "vice". One side just feels more guilty about indulging the more taboo less-accepted vices for their side. (i.e. a Democrat might feel worse about smoking than about watching porn, a Republican would feel the reverse. )

  • ||

    Says the guy drinking VitaminWater. Not only is your drink healthy, it's sweet. I bet you're a girl drink drunk, too. Have another Strawberry Daiquiri.

    Feh! It's chocolate choo-choos or nothing!

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