Earlier this month, residents of Berkeley, California, voted in a one-cent per ounce tax on sugary drinks, the first ever in the United States. As many as 30 previous attempts by U.S. cities and states to tax away sugar in soda have failed. What seems like the perfect opportunity for a "bootleggers and Baptists" style coalition to perform their political magic just hasn't played out, note economists Adam Smith and Bruce Yandle.
Smith and Yandle, co-authors of the recent book Bootleggers and Baptists: Explaining America's Regulatory Saga, can find plenty of "Baptists" in the soda-tax situation: groups such as the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the NAACP that see sweet drinks as a major detriment to American health and well-being. But where are the bootleggers?