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Drinking Down Paternalism

March 15, 2010

Adam Fowler for Adam Fowler’s Opinion Blog:

Government paternalism seemingly never goes out of fashion. One recent example comes in the form of a beverage tax proposed by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. The tax has been dubbed as both a way to increase revenue to the city and nudge individuals into healthier beverage choices and potentially better health. Leave it to government to profit off of telling people what to drink.

The proposed tax would apply to “sugar-sweetened beverage(s),” which are defined as “any non-alcoholic beverage with added sugar, including: soda, non100%-fruit drinks, sports drinks, flavored water, energy drinks, and ready-to-drink sweetened tea and coffee.” This would exempt diet drinks without sugar added. The tax would amount to 2 cents per ounce. Quick math: That’s 64 cents added to the price of a medium drink (typically 32 ounces).

Anyone for bottled water or diet? Philadelphians may not prefer those drinks, but thanks to the ever-increasing nanny state, it may become the wiser financial decision. It may also become the wiser decision for many others, given that similar taxes have been proposed elsewhere in the nation and President Obama has in the past voiced support for such measures. It is likely that the federal government’s “reform” efforts to control health-care costs will only serve as another excuse for government to regulate the drinking and eating habits of individuals. [More]

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