The Whopper Tax

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So it's not enough that eating at a MacDonald's or Burger King all the time will supposedly make you fat, zit-ridden, and smelly?

The mayor of Detroit–a city once better-known for birthing Motor City Madmen of the rock 'n' roll persuasion (among other musical ambassadors of good will ranging from Motowners to faux-revolutionaries to rappers)–is now proposing a fast-food tax to plug a $300 million budget hole the way Mickey D's special sauce clogs arteries.

Let's not get into questions of whether the tax would take a bite out of Detroit's fiscal problems or anything like that. Instead, let's simply ask: Would Mayor McCheese ever levy a 2 percent levy (that comes stacked like extra pickles on the extant 6 percent restaurant-meal tax) on home meals cooked in McDonaldLand?

And did Sir Shakes-a-Lot, the St. Vitus' Dance-ridden knight in Burger King's degenerate version of McDonaldLand, die defending the Holy Land in the new Ridley Scott snoozer Kingdom of Heaven?

Read more about Detroit's tax proposal here.

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  1. ” The mayor says consumers will barely notice the extra cents at the cash register…”

    Just like the frog won’t jump out of the pot if you slowly bring it to a boil.

    “The tax would apply to anything sold at a fast-food restaurant, even salads.”

    Am I missing something? If I buy a salad at McD’s, I pay extra tax, but if I buy a Bloomin’ Indigest-ion from Outback, I don’t? This idiot bastard Kilpatrick should be laughed out of town.

    “But Kilpatrick insists an additional 2 percent ? a nickel on a $2.50 Big Mac ? would have little effect on the pocketbooks of the average resident or the competitiveness of Detroit fast-food restaurants.”

    I always love how tyranny and injustice is excused because, well, it’s only a little bit of tyranny and injustice. “But, judge, I only put a little bit of cyanide in his wine”

    “And just how is “fast food” defined? Besides the obvious chains such as Wendy’s and White Castle, officials have mentioned takeout pizza places and Detroit’s ubiquitous chili-dog restaurants known as Coney Islands. It’s uncertain, however, where Starbucks or the corner deli would fall. The administration says it is still working on a definition.”

    fast food
    n.

    1) Inexpensive food, such as hamburgers and fried chicken, prepared and served quickly.

    2) Cheap, tasty food which is a perfect scapegoat for nutrition nannies, and, as such, a perfect target for pathetic beaurocrats looking to squeeze every last possible tax dollar out of their constituency.

  2. Where are the “faux-revolutionaries” now that we need them? To the mayor of Motown I can only say: KICK OUT THE JAMS, MUTHAHFUCKAHS!!!

  3. Kind Sirs:

    Surely you realize that this tax will only apply to lower-income riff-raff who patronize these “food” purveyors?

    Thankfully, authentic restaurants that serve delicacies fit for human consumption remain unmolested.

  4. Lord FB:

    I am afraid that lower-income folks are pretty
    much the only folks that live within the Detroit
    city limits these days. This situation is, of
    course, the legacy of decades of poor government
    in Detriot. There is a literature around on
    how Detroit went wrong and Chicago went right
    from similar starting positions around 1960.

    So, whatever else it may be, a fast food tax in
    Detroit will not be that regressive.

    Jeff Smith

  5. A fast food tax will make Detroit a LOT of money and they’ll find a perfectly sensible way to blow it on useless bullshit. I’m thankful every morning that I made it out of that sewer.

  6. 1: Let’s treat fast food like land and tax the mean surface area. Big Macs, with two patties and three buns, have more surface square inches than a Nathan’s hot dog.

    2: This cannot affect french fries. Universal experience proves that french fries are collectively consumed and cannot be owned.

    3: Mayor McCheese is a proponent of eugenics. How else do you explain fields of burgers and fries that want to be eaten? And didn’t Grimace have four arms at one point?

  7. You have interjected commentary about Detroit’s musical heritage into a post otherwise about a tax proposal. That’s fine, but why no mention of Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels?

  8. I favor an IQ tax.

  9. Maybe it’s a contest to try and drive every last resident of Detroit out of the city. Want to place your bets on when the last resident will leave?

  10. This idiot bastard Kilpatrick should be laughed out of town.

    This is pretty much true regardless of any fast food tax…

  11. Dagny:

    The feature of Kilpatrick that makes him unique in this regard is that most of the fat-taxers have a rationale that at least attempts to justify their idiotic position by employing emotionalism, sensationalism, etc. You know, “these creeps are responsible for the obesity epidemic”, etc., etc. Kilpatrick, on the other hand, only justifies his proposal with “well, it’s not that much tyranny, just a little bit, almost unnoticable”. He makes no pleas to the typical social-engineering rationale that pervades the food nannies.

  12. Dagny:

    The feature of Kilpatrick that makes him unique in this regard is that most of the fat-taxers have a rationale that at least attempts to justify their idiotic position by employing emotionalism, sensationalism, etc. You know, “these creeps are responsible for the obesity epidemic”, etc., etc. Kilpatrick, on the other hand, only justifies his proposal with “well, it’s not that much tyranny, just a little bit, almost unnoticable”. He makes no pleas to the typical social-engineering rationale that pervades the food nannies…which is, well, I guess, honest, to be fair. He’s like, “yeah, this is just an attempt to rob you poor fucks even moreso than we do now—but, well, we’re only robbing you a little bit”. Depending on how you look at it, I guess it could be slightly more noble than trying to shroud it in a vail of altruism or social engineering. Nah, just stealin’ yer money some mo.

  13. Evan Williams

    As you point out, it doesn’t seem (at least from the article linked) than Kilpatrick is hiding behind an emotional appeal involving, say, the health of children. He is basically admitting this is a way for Detroit to raise revenue it needs.
    Setting aside the issue of whether there are other ways for Detroit to break even — though I’d be curious to hear about those, as I know little about the current state of Detroit finances except that they suck, have sucked for a while, and will likely suck for the forseeable future — would I be correct to say that this would be less objectionable proposal to you if he simply made it an across-the-board 2% hike on restaurants? Is “restaurants” as a class more acceptable than “fast food restaurant,” insofar as its definition is clearer/well-established?

    Anon

  14. Where’s The Stabbler? when you really need him?

    Stabble Stabble Stabble!

  15. An extra nickel for a cheesburger, but none for flaming cheese? OPA!! Greektown is the only redeeming feature of Detroit.

    But I have a suggestion for the Hip Hop mayor. If you want to raise money, sell the munincipal power co. It sucks to drive down Mack Ave. at 4 in the a.m. with no street lights or traffic lights.

  16. There is a literature around on
    how Detroit went wrong and Chicago went right
    from similar starting positions around 1960.

    I’m curious… but lazy. What is an example of something Detroit’s government did wrong after 1960? In my opinion, Detroit and Chicago started out quite differently – the two biggest differences being that Detroit focused on a single industry and completely lacked any mass transit (which for a city of nearly 2,000,000 was a pretty impressive feat at mid-century).

  17. Happy Jack-
    They turn off the traffic lights at night? Seriously? Jesus, that’s like the Third World.

  18. Jennifer- the lights go out, but not on purpose. 🙂

    They don’t have the funds for upkeep. But rather than sell out to Detroit Edison, they would prefer to hang on to the city’s jewels.

    I was told when I worked there that on any given night, one-quarter of the city was in darkness.

    Third World indeed!

  19. “I was told when I worked there that on any given night, one-quarter of the city was in darkness.”

    That’s no joke. Drive downtown at night and, unless you’re in the 2 block area that actually has something left, you’ll realize you’re on the set of Robocop.

  20. More music originating in Detroit:

    techno!

    Some of the originators:

    Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, and Carl Craig.

  21. Ugh. Jennifer, you are SO right. I’m so glad I don’t live in Detroit any more. Despite helping to found a group that actually tried to do some good (http:www.detroitsynergy.org)…

    WHEN will they figure out that MORE TAXES just drive people and business OUT of the city?! Unbelievable.

    Let me tell you, folks, I was a grad student the last few years and in the lower income brackets. Last year I was taxed $300 by the feds and $180 by Michigan. Both of them refunded it all.

    Not Detroit though. They took $320 and told me I still owed $95!

    Now THERE’s a policy to bring people back into the city….

    Ugh.

  22. Rhywun,

    When I lived there what I was told was that ex-Mayor Archer was what really killed the city. He was in power in the 70s and 80s I think. Supposedly he had a brilliant plan to give power to black businesses by INTENTIONALLY taxing all the white business out of the city limits.

    It worked.

  23. Whoops, it was Mayor Coleman Young, not poor Archer.

  24. taxing all the white business out of the city limits

    What?! How could they possibly get away with that? I can’t think of a legal way to achieve that.

  25. Everything must go!

    I’m not even sure they can sell the Public Lighting Department. DTE might consider it a liability. It’s a shitty, union-infested POS. The Detroit News once did a story about how five employees there earned $1.6 million in overtime over three years. Those guys had base salaries of about $50,000 and were more than doubling it with overtime. And of course the street lights are still always out.

  26. Sorry for all the questions, guys, but I still can’t wrap my mind around this power outage thing. Is it just the street lights that go out, or ALL the lights in a particular section of the city? Do Detroit residents have to deal with blackouts as a regular occurence, the way I have to deal with rain?

  27. Five hours have passed. Oh, Lord, Ah done kilt this thread.

  28. Jennifer- the Public Lighting Dept. doesn’t provide power to most homes or businesses.

    However, those who live in public housing, or work at schools, fire stations, public buildings, etc, have to depend on the city for power.

    Heaviest usage occurs after 5 (when people get home), so usually streetlights are the only noticeable outage most of the time.(except fireman of course, 24 hr shifts)

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