Gimme a sin tax

friend of mine, his girlfriend and I parked the car and were walking toward the restaurant when a grossly obese fellow came out through the door. Robert turned around and walked back to the car. Laura said, “Robert, don’t be that way, c’mon, Robert, turn around.”

“What’s the use,” he said. “There’s no more food left.”

Looking at statistics, obesity is running at 36% in the USA. What’s the reason for this? One reason is increased agriculture efficiency and food has become cheaper. People are flat out eating more but not better stuff. Obesity is a worldwide problem.

The Atkins diet was not what you’d call a healthy diet but we learned something vital by its use – carbohydrates, complex (potato starch) and simple (pure sugar) – was the cause, not fat. So, eating all that low fat food and pigging out on sugar wasn’t working.

And so, not surprisingly, obesity is the number one cause of premature death surpassing smoking in the USA. Obesity’s ill effects account for $130 billion (20%) of health care costs.

What may follow our current Obamacare, unfortunately, may be a single payer – government – health care system, but no proposals have been made on how to pay for it.

I propose a method of funding not conceived up to this time: A Sin Tax.

Yes, a sin tax on sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and processed carbohydrates. Again the Atkins diet showed the most significant cause of obesity in one way even though it omitted effects of sedentary behavior.

With Americans addiction to such overeating, a sin tax would allow them to have some skin in the game (is there a pun here?) when it comes to who’s gonna pay for health care. A co-pay could be based on the amount a person is overweight because they, of course, would be more expensive to treat because of their greater odds of contracting diabetes, strokes and heart attacks.

I can see a tax on the percentage of carb calories in the product. Potatoes, beans, rice, bananas, corn, in the unprocessed state would be exempt, while instant potatoes, bleached flour, candy, pastries and soda would be hit the hardest. The bar code would store the information and the check out register would add the tax to the final tally.

But can you just see the food industry lobbyists crawling up the steps of Congress to press their case against such ideas? On their knees, step by step, flagellating themselves with wet ropes, with their mendicant cries of  “Unfair. Unfair.” Yes, the opposition will be great.

  I’ve been all over the web looking at the opinions of Canadians’ national health care system which is based on an income tax predominately, but high taxes on alcohol (a 24 pack of beer is about $43) and cigarettes (around $10/pack) evidently contributes some to the overall Canadian funding of their health care issues. It seems they pretty much like it mostly because an illness won’t immiserate a family with hospital bills. By the way, doctors are not hired by the government; they just get paid by the government. One problem most Canadians see is the lack of funding for preventive care.

I’m not sure and probably never will be confident that Washington DC has the ability to run a national healthcare system. Look at the VA system which has had more than its share of inefficiencies in the past. But, any attempts to impose one will have to deal with the issue of “how will it be funded?”

So, let me be the first to suggest a sin tax on the main cause – overeating of sugar. Worry about exercise next.

Like Butch Cassidy said, “ Man, I got vision where the rest of the world wears bifocals.”

Hey, can I help it if I feel that way too?

That’s what I think but I could be wrong, you know.

Ray Wolbrecht is a retired dentist from Kyle.

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