Last night, really early this morning, I e-filed my federal and local taxes. How sobering.
“Doing” my taxes, or having them done to me, always makes me wonder where the heck they go. I would love to have the option to let me designate where my tax dollars are spent. Certainly not to provide Cadillac health insurance for life for members of Congress when they will not insure affordable health care for all working Americans; not for the “global war on terror” because I still have no idea what that means other than unlimited spending in Iraq and Afghanistan; not for unlimited Congressional junkets; not for “bridges to nowhere”.
Sorry for the treatise. Back to fat taxes.
As a method to increase government revenue (federal and state), politicians have proposed taxing various forms of unhealthy food – sugary drinks seem the easiest target. Most people agree there is little nutritional value to such “food” products and except for government interference with bidness practices and imposing costs for another layer of bureaucracy, hey, this seems reasonable to keep kids of all ages away from empty calories. But, I wonder just how big of an impact this would have on obesity? I would rather the government stop subsidizing corn farming – high fructose corn syrup provides no nutritional benefit, and corn feed for all those fatty animal food products… (Don’t get me started on ethanol as fuel.) Taxing other foods gets dicier. When is meat too fatty? When it’s at McDonald’s? Surely a big ol’ steak at a fancy restaurant will never be taxed. Hmm, looks like the poor might be bearing unequal tax burden, again.
Many people model a fat tax after taxes on nicotine and tobacco use behavior. Tax fat employees by raising their cost of health care benefits; tax fat fliers; maybe even tax people based on their BMI. Sorry folks, it ain’t that simple. One can just stop use of tobacco products and immediately be a nonsmoker. One cannot suddenly stop being obese. Also, the cause of obesity is multifactorial and too poorly understood. “Treatment” is woefully inadequate and unavailable (How many affordable options are there for overeaters compared to the hundreds of eating disorder clinics for the relatively fewer anorexic/bulemics?) Surgery is not a cure-all and must be coupled with intensive behavioral therapy then the person still has to fight whatever genetic component remains and the environmental pressures to eat.
Sorry – fat taxes on fat people, no. Environmental restructuring to make healthy food more affordable, yes.
So, as my yearly federal and state taxes go into the mysterious black box that is the treasury, I’m wondering what the government is doing to facilitate a healthier citizenry. Here in Arizona the legislature thinks letting everyone carry a gun without a permit makes for a healthier state. Yeesh. Can I have my refund now?