Wednesday 17 December 2008
New York Governor David Paterson has proposed an 18% "obesity tax" on soft drink sales in New York state. The American Beverage Association objects ('natch), claiming that this tax will put the squeeze on the middle class. ("In an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on hardworking families." -ameribev.org )
Let's say I consume a single 2-liter Coca-Cola every 2 days. That's 180 2-liters per year. (Don't judge me.) At $1.50 per 2-liter, that's $270 I spend on Coke per year. I already pay 7% sales tax for Coke, meaning that $270 of Coke costs me $288.90. If I were forced to pay an additional 18% tax on top of that, those 180 Cokes cost $337.50, a nearly $50 increase over the course of a year. (That's a lot more than I spend on comic books these days.)
Even in these hardscrabble times, that's not really a lot of money. And I drink a LOT of Coke. (Don't judge me.) How many families in New York consume as much soft drink per person as I do? Turns out that according to the National Soft Drink Association, the national average is somewhere near 105 2-liters per American per year. For the average New Yorker (at, say 1700 Broadway in Manhattan, the home of DC Comics) paying a sales tax of 8.375% on that same $1.50 Coke, they'll be paying $199.04 instead of $170.69, an annual difference of about $30.
Needless to say, ABA, I don't think this will break the back of New Yorkers. And the number is so low, that it is unlikely to really discourage that many obese middle class buyers. (Though I do think of my dad, who won't buy any 2-liter soft drink at a cost greater than $1.00, because "the price was never that high when I was a kid!")
But don't take this article as me supporting the government involving itself in my buying habits on the grounds that it knows better than I do what's good for me. I'm the guy that opposes seat belt laws, remember? If I want to get too fat from sipping sugary beverages to be thrown to my death from my car in an accident, I think that's my right!. And I'll let the ABA use that argument if they think it will help them.
Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go to work saving my life by pouring another Coke.