Saturday, December 20, 2008

Let Them Drink Water

"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 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".

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Throw Back the Little Ones

The nature of law practice, like any small business, forces you to think about where you've been, where you are, and where you're going. I think I do this more as I get older, realizing there is not an infinite time frame to get it right.

This morning I was thinking about what I want to do, but it's so hard to stay focused on THAT. My learned thought patterns keep taking me back, thinking about what I've done....usually what I've done wrong. At best, I get to what I'm doing now, that is, what I'm presently doing wrong. Do I have to get past these to think about the future? I don't know, if you figure it out let me know, we can write a book and go on Oprah together.

I DID figure out that I want to be working on things that excite me, BIG projects and bold business ideas. I've had some of these kicking around for years, and they haven't been done. Why? WHY?? One reason is working on a high volume of small stuff, rationalized under the heading of "having to make a living". Would I be making a better living if I were working on bigger and better things? If I had the courage to go after them? If I did not "keep busy" with the small stuff?

For some reason, FISHING came to mind. If I were fishing for bigger and more exciting things to do, what would I do with the smaller fish? Give em to someone else, or....THROW THEM BACK. Naturally, this made me think of the Steely Dan song "Throw Back the Little Ones". It's an obscure Steely Dan song, but I always really liked it. Here's a link....with lyrics, give it a listen, check out the lyrics, and let me know if you like it

If you are fishing, and you don't throw back the little ones, and if you keep bringing them on board, you know what happens? Your whole ship smells like mackerel!!!