Las Vegas Sun

July 31, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Why stop at a food tax?

Another view?

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Regarding the story “Nevada assemblyman proposes fast food tax”:

If harmful human behavior, the eating of fast food, is the object of the tax, I can think of hundreds of other harmful human behaviors we could tax.

Texting while moving: If you can text from your phone, odds are it has a GPS. A simple software upgrade could send pertinent information to the cell service provider, who would add the tax your bill.

Fattening foods in grocery stores or restaurants: Nachos, cheeseburgers, sodas, beer, pizza, etc., at your favorite sports bar could be targets. A simple identifier in the UPC could trigger a tax at checkout.

Lack of exercise: Everyone has to clock in on their treadmill, step machine, etc., at home, their health club, walking trail or wherever. A similar piece of code could transmit the amount and intensity of exercise. Those not raising their heartbeat within their safe cardio zone for at least 30 minutes five days a week will find additional tax due when they pay their property tax bill.

As anyone can see, the suggestion that fast food and only fast food rates a sin tax is narrow and lacks imagination. Surely the assemblyman could raise millions more in investments by just doing an inventory of his own behavior as an example. Maybe legislation should require that local and state elected leaders be taxed by the dumb legislation they put forward.

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Previous Discussion: 26 comments so far…

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  1. We could just pass legislation banning death.

    Getting slapped on the butt by a doctor is eventually fatal. None of us are going to get out of this alive, double cheeseburgers or not.

  2. Fast food taxes are nanny state nonsense. It's a lame excuse to add more tax revenue under the guise of improving human behavior. These fast food indulgers should NOT be taxed at all, period. Why? Those who frequent fast food eateries will, if the nanny state food police are right, die young due to their poor eating habits. Consequently they save the government and taxpayers alot of money in the long run. They should be rewarded not taxed.

    CarmineD

  3. Anyone know what a reductio ad Absurdum logical fallacy is? Because that is the what the letter writer has committed along with cheap sarcasm in place of thought. Too bad the Sun chose to print such an uninformed opinion which would normally appear in the RJ.

  4. @Mark....ad rates are based on the number of page views and responses. The Sun and RJ don't particularly care about intelligent commentary so much as they care about Pavlovian response. Fortunately the Sun appears to have a reliable right wing troll team ready and willing to step with inane responses to inane letters.

  5. I saw a guy on TV say, "It's only a nickel." He obviously doesn't understand the significance of the tax. It's not about money, even the moron proposing the tax admits. It's about altering behavior; a "delightful" agenda "progressives" continue to push. It's another inch towards complete control of mind and action "progressives" salivate to control. They love "diversity" so long as it agrees with their agenda. Be a black or female Conservative and see just how quickly the "can't-we-just-get-along" propaganda evaporates. You are safer locked in a room full of rattle snakes then you are with "progressives" and their anti-freedom agenda.

  6. Hi Pat,
    You have given another reason that free market capitalism doesn't serve the public interest very well. Quantity over quality is celebrated.

  7. Why tax anyone for fast food with a new tax? Maybe we should make it a law for fast food outlets to not use certain types of ingredients which contribute to health issues for all citizens who buy their fast food products.

    I also suggest we don't give politicans any new ideas on what items they should raise taxes on.They already have a lot of their own ideas,which cost us all money.

  8. Sam:

    The intent of liberal left wing politicians, and some of their ardent fans who post here, is to tax the food we like to eat, so we can't afford to.

    Simple.

    CarmineD

  9. Logically this is no different than the seatbelt law.

  10. Future - "We have given away our rights"

    You gave your rights away under the Patriot Act.

    As a heavy smoker of many years, I gave up cigarettes when taxes kept increasing. I guess taxes can be a useful tool in helping people take better care of their health issues.

  11. "Anyone know what a reductio ad Absurdum logical fallacy is?" - mschaffer

    Reductio ad absurdium, or "reduction to the impossible" is a valid form of argument when used properly. Whether or not it is used properly is a different matter.

    More to the point, the problem with any tax of this nature is that you can in fact usually find some rationale to put it on just about any activity that could result in the expenditure of public funds to correct the consequences of that activity.

    In this case, it could easily be justified if we had a single-payer healthcare system, and is somewhat justifiable under the ACA and the existing policy of no one gets turned away from an ER for lack of ability to pay.

    The bigger problem is how to rationally draw a line between what is acceptable risk vs. what requires the government to step in and protect a person from, even if from one's self.

  12. Why not have a minimum Corporate Tax?

    "Over Two-Thirds Of Corporations Pay No Federal Corporate Income Tax " HuffPost

    "At a time when the federal government is starved for cash -- and facing layoffs and cuts in services across the board -- more and more corporations are sidestepping their traditional tax rate and keeping millions of dollars for themselves."

    " By 2008, corporations known as nontaxable businesses -- meaning the companies themselves pay no federal income taxes, accounted for about 69 percent of all corporations, a designation that can save companies hundreds of millions of dollars in a single year."

    Wasn't it General Electric, grossing $14 billion that paid NO taxes? And to make up for that the broccoli should be taxed? Oy gevalt.

  13. chuck333 - "Vernos come on. You think that raising taxes is the best way to make people take better care of themselves?"

    Not all, but many would prefer to stop eating junk food in lieu of paying taxes. The outcome would be a reduction in health costs which is getting too expensive. Before you blame that on Obamacare, running health care for profit is why costs have been steadily rising over the last 35 years. Which coincides with stagnant wages for the working poor and middle class.

  14. At 5:25 this morning CarmineD (Carmine DiFazio) posted "Fast food taxes are nanny state nonsense."

    Depends on the purpose of the tax - to raise money? Or to change behaviour now to gain overall savings later?

    Like other posters - I quit smoking (after 30+years) a "few" years back when the tobacco taxes reached a particular threshold. Did those taxes raise money? Yep. Did they change my behaviour? Sure did. Did I gain overall? Absolutely, although some things (like lung capacity) I never will gain back. Did society overall gain? Can't say. I think so, but that depends on my own perspective - yours may differ.

  15. as long as malnutrition and starvation remain it is amoral to tax food. If a democrat proposed this I suggest they resign and join the capitalist party.

  16. hookershanky,

    "as long as malnutrition and starvation remain it is amoral to tax food."

    I agree, but a diet of fast food, and prepared foods in general, isn't the answer. The cost in expendable income is also a factor , as well as health.

    A healthy diet, lowering the cost of healthy natural foods, and the commitment to prepare healthy meals should be the focus.

    There are many culprits related to poor health and foods, public and private.

  17. @boftx..."Logically this is no different than the seatbelt law."

    Not really. The seat belt law requires all passengers in a motor vehicle to wear a seat belt. This tax is on specific foods that someone else finds bad for you.

    Ignoring the fact that no one ever has to drive a car, but we all have to eat, only if the seat belt law required only people in sports cars to wear their seat belts could you consider these two the same.

    In addition, this law ignores the fact that many fine dinning restaurants serve meals that are for more unhealthy than what you can get at Mickey D's. The reason they aren't included is because this proposal is not about health, it's really just a revenue generator placed on the backs of lower income folks.

  18. Once every two weeks or so, the whole family goes to the Golden Arches for lunch/early dinner. Wife, daughter, 4 granddaughters, my son-in-law occasionally if he can get away from work and I. The bill is usally $40. We each get a meal, drinks, and the little ones have ice cream cones and cookies for dessert. Add 5 percent or more on top of the tab for a food tax? Nonsense. McDonald's has done a yeoman's job in adding calories to its menu items and fruit and healthy drinks to its happy meals for the kiddies. But with the government looking over your shoulder, it's never good enough.

    Curiously all the fast food restaurants' stock prices have taken a hit of late. Why? My take. The President's comments on increasing the minimum wage by 25 percent and the talk of the fast food tax. A double whammy for these eating establishments. And where's Congress: On recess!

    CarmineD

  19. BTW, if you haven't noticed, McDonald's [at east here in LV] cut back it's large 32 ounce drink to 30 ounces. ;-)

    CarmineD

  20. Carmine,

    "Curiously all the fast food restaurants' stock prices have taken a hit of late"

    Perhaps, it is because many people can't afford the luxury of a fast food dinner out due to the economy, unemployment, and the projected effects of sequestration. Equals profit loss.

  21. boftx wrote this: "More to the point, the problem with any tax of this nature is that you can in fact usually find some rationale to put it on just about any activity that could result in the expenditure of public funds to correct the consequences of that activity."

    It is called representative democracy and how our whole system functions. You are free to whine about taxes but without them no one could live a decent life.

  22. peace the poor don't really have a choice; my mother says that my grandmother put on weight during the last depression.

  23. "Perhaps, it is because many people can't afford the luxury of a fast food dinner out due to the economy, unemployment, and the projected effects of sequestration. Equals profit loss." @ peacelily

    You might be on to something with the increase in the FICA taxes. The increase in social security taxes reduces take home pay and there is less for discretionary spending like fast food meals and movies. Plus the increase in gas prices. Workers are hit with a double whammy for less spendable income. Wal*Mart says it has felt the pinch in the consumers' pocketbooks too with lower sales and revenue since January 1, 2013.

    CarmineD

  24. Carmine, did FICA and SS taxes really increase, or just return to what they were after the temporary decrease ended? I saw them as more a temporary stimulus, not a real cut.

    Still, spendable income is down, wages for many are still stagnant, and costs of living are increasing.

    Business suffers as a result. However, watch products change. Sometimes subtle changes. Because the desire to keep profits up means that product costs must decrease. I've seen loads of changes, but you often have to look for them and think about what you are seeing.

    I've stopped buying some products because of the changes, which are for the worse. I now look very closely at what I am buying. Cost and quality are important to me.

    Fast food is off the menu now.

  25. hookershanky,

    Putting on weight during the depression may be related to the fact that high carb starchy foods are cheap and filling. Bread, beans, pasta, etc.

    They also have a tranquilizing ability, so it is easy to understand the increased weight.

  26. "Carmine, did FICA and SS taxes really increase, or just return to what they were after the temporary decrease ended? I saw them as more a temporary stimulus, not a real cut." @ peacelily

    Correct. Temporary Bush tax cuts to stimulate consumer spending in the economic downturn. Then, they were extended by President Obama for the same reasons. Obviously, they accomplished their objectives as the recent downturn in discretionary spending indicates after they were restored to normal.

    CarmineD