Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What's This I Hear About Soda?

Do you remember Emily Litella, Gilda Radner's character on SNL? Oh my gosh I loved her.  The show I remember most fondly started out as "What's this I hear about too much violins on television?" Emily prattles on and on about how violins are wonderful and there could never be too much violins.

I mention Emily because I can't help but think of her when I reflect on the news of last night's mid-term elections. I'm pretty sure I haven't shared my personal political views here but today...I can't help but speak out.

So...what's this I hear about a tax on soda? This tax passed yesterday in Berkeley, CA! I didn't realize that this was a new movement trying to take hold across the nation. I've decided that I'm a little alarmed.

I used to be a soda junkie...albeit a diet soda junkie. The caveat is that "diet" soda is not getting the extra tax.

I surprised myself (and my husband) when I gave soda up in 2011. This was not easy. I drank soda all day long. My past (and current) employer provide soda and juice as well as coffee. I loved that perk. Now I appreciate the fact that my employer provides us with a water cooler. 

So why am I alarmed about this new tax and sincerely hope that the trend stops in Berkeley? I read a virtual bulletin board today and a large number of commenters were very happy with the new tax. Their arguments are that there is scientific "proof" that soda leads to diabetes, obesity, tooth decay and other health problems.

1st of all:  I strongly doubt that there is a scientific finding that claims to prove cause and effect between soda and illness. Instead I believe that the most they can do is make a strong correlation between soda consumption and the sugar related illnesses. I find it alarming that legislation is being introduced that essentially punishes a person who chooses to buy a soda instead of a bottled water. 

I'm sure some will argue that the Berkeley voters chose to tax themselves. I say baloney. Only the voters that chose to go to the polls during a mid-term election made this choice. 

There's a movement in this country to villainize "junk food". People feel that they "know better" than individuals making personal eating decisions. There's the debate about if it's really cheaper to buy fast food or junk food. It's become fairly well documented that food costs really are skewed with "junk food" on the cheaper end. (This LA Times article is just one example.) 

It is also well documented that there are indeed  "food deserts" -- predominately low income neighborhoods that do not have accessible healthy food sources. Trendy, high end grocery stores are typically geographically inaccessible as well as economically inaccessible.   The healthy farmer's market type foods are simply not available to entire segments of the population.

So why do I resent the implications that come from additional tax to "discretionary" food products? It's a slippery slope that sets a precedent that "some" have the power to influence the choices of "others". In fact, the result (maybe the intent) is to punish individuals for making what "some" consider to be poor choices. 

I'm not currently a soda I am not directly affected. (Plus I don't live in Berkeley.) Here's the just feels very wrong. Maybe the new tax will re-direct consumers away from regular soda. If it does, it's likely that it will be replaced with diet soda. Right? And are we so sure that people are better off with diet soda? Not that long ago (in my lifetime) diet soda was sweetened with saccharin which was linked to cancer.

What I'm saying is... I shouldn't have the power to decide for someone else what they should or shouldn't drink. And I don't think others should have this power over me. Personal choices should not be subject to a popular vote.

This? This is what has moved me to talk politics on my blog. Unlike Emily.... I'm not going to reverse my position with a "never mind". 


  1. Do you feel the same way about tobacco and alcohol taxes? Marrying a New Yorker whose an on and off smoker told me how outrageous the taxes are on tobacco in NY, I think it might be the highest, and honestly i think its not such a bad thing... It seems the higher the price the less my hubby feels tempted to buy them. The food taxes is another situation however... i agree that junk food is cheap and more accessible to lower/middle-class people, where as the healthy/organic foods are more expensive and in higher-end communities. I do think people should eat less junk and fast food but i dont think raises the taxes on it is the way to do. I think we need to make healthy food more affordable and accessible to all people! Anyways, "thats just my two cents"- Food Lion lol

    1. You have a good question about tobacco and alcohol taxes. I think I'm not sure how I feel about that. My first thought is they are not "grocery" items so I'm less inclined to think of them in the same way. I agree with you that it would be better if everyone ate better...but taxes is not the way. :)


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