"What'll It Be?"
"I'll have the 'all you can eat special'......and a Diet Coke"
New York Governor Paterson's recent proposal to tax non-diet soft drinks http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/soda-tax-plan-sparks-a-debate/ should be applauded for one reason only. It will get people talking about the question of whether diet sodas are healthy. There has been some reference to this tax as an "obesity tax". This stunned me, as I firmly believe that not only are diet sodas unhealthy, they CAUSE obesity.
I know, just because overweight people are often seen buying and consuming diet soda, I should not make the simplistic assumption that diet soda caused the obesity. I know it did not. Over-eating the wrong foods, lack of exercise and (perhaps) genetics is the CAUSE. But has diet soda ever helped an obese person LOSE weight? If there was an ounce of evidence that this could remotely happen, wouldn't the diet soda purveyors be flaunting this? They do not, because they know diet soda has zero to do with reducing obesity. My non-scientific observation is that drinking diet soda tricks obese people into thinking they are "doing something about their problem", which paradoxically causes them to ignore the root issues, thereby exacerbating the problem. In logic, I think this is called the "Tab-Conundrum".
This diet soda exception reeks of lobbying, desperation and stupidity. I was insulted by the idea of exempting diet soda from a soft-drink tax. Am I the only one? Soft drinks are unhealthy crap, designed by the mass-food industry to be addictive. Diet sodas are crappy soft-drinks with the sugar taken out, and chemical substitutes added.
There are numerous examples of legislative efforts to tax "unhealthy" products, to raise revenue and discourage unhealthy (and therefore costly to society) behavior. Most people have no problem with a heavy tax on cigarettes. Most of us understand why gasoline is taxed (our society is addicted to it, we should use less, and the tax raises massive revenue).
I don't have a problem with soft drinks being taxed, if it's ALL soft drinks. I can imagine a board meeting at Coke, where they can't be happy about their flagship product being taxed, but also realizing the benefits in touting the tax savings of their "healthy alternative". Ughhh
What will be next? Coffee is a logical candidate. It's addictive, probably unhealthy, and widely used. Would we exempt de-caf? Frappuccinos?
What about tea? Hmmm, revolutions have started over taxing tea. Maybe that's why diet soda is exempted...fear of revolution from the Diet Coke community.
Excessive television watching is unhealthy, contributing to obesity and mental stupification. Maybe we should tax it.....would we exempt PBS? How about radio, would it be subject to the "sedentariness tax"?
Maybe this issue comes at the right time, when people are looking for ways to cut costs. I wonder how much money people would save if they didn't drink soft drinks at all? If they cured their addiction.....and I call it an addiction because people believe they NEED to drink soft drinks. The fact is, if you drink WATER (as is, or with a squeeze of lemon or lime......a 19 cent lime works for about 6 glasses of water), you'll never look back. Except to look at the soda companies to say "good-bye, and thanks for nothing".