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.