Paul L. Caron

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"I'd Like to Teach the World to Tax" -- Coke Opposes Soda Tax

The CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, Muhtar Kent, has published an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal, Coke Didn't Make America Fat: Americans Need More Exercise, Not Another Tax:

Obesity is a complex issue, and addressing it is important for all Americans. We at the Coca-Cola company are committed to working with government and health organizations to implement effective solutions to address this problem.

But a number of public-health advocates have already come up with what they think is the solution: heavy taxes on some routine foods and beverages that they have decided are high in calories. The taxes, the advocates acknowledge, are intended to limit consumption of targeted foods and help you to accept the diet that they have determined is best.

In cities and states across America—and even at the federal level—this idea is getting increased attention despite its regressive nature and inherent illogic. ... Will a soft drink tax change behavior? Two states currently have a tax on sodas—West Virginia and Arkansas—and they are among the states with the highest rates of obesity in the nation.


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I have no problem with taxing "bad" behavior. Of course, we can debate what is and is not bad, but in general, taxing the bad and giving credits/deductions/subsidies for the good is how are tax system works. Families, college education, home ownership, etc... are "good" therefore, you get a deduction/credit/subsidy.

What I hate about a federal soda tax is that they are taxing high fructose corn syrup, the production of which is subsidized. I am not going to debate the merits of increasing the price of soda, but it seems silly to say "drinking soda is bad, now pay your taxes so we can discount the production of soda."

Posted by: A. Saunders | Oct 9, 2009 1:05:23 PM

If Obama wants to tax things that make people fat, then let him tax fried chicken.

Posted by: Woody | Oct 9, 2009 8:49:23 PM