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Opinion

Sales tax should apply to soda pop, unhealthy items

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October 15, 2009

Who’s up in arms about taxing things that ought to be taxed, but aren’t? I’m up in arms about things that ought to be taxed, but aren’t.

The latest craze in government control is whether or not to tax our liquefied sugar drinks called “pop,” or for you Wisconsin folks, “soda.” Border dialects aside, this is the potential for a useless and probably endless debate. I’d like to weigh the pros and cons to this idea.

First, it’s important that we keep things like health and the economy involved here. Concerning the idea of taxing pop – how would it be any different than taxing cigarettes? They’re both quite harmful to humans, they both cause heart disease, they both make stains on our white teeth, and they can both be quite addictive.

People continue to buy and get hooked on cigs, so how is adding a small extra fee to your 64-ounce death sentence going to make any difference? I hear a lot of complaints about it-usually first beginning in political office. “Why should the government control what we eat?” Good question-no really, it is a fair question, and I’ll get back to it later, but the government enacts mounding control on what you put in your mouth.

Hell, there’s supposedly fluoride in our tap water, which is designed to strengthen our teeth. If the government can put chemicals in our water to strengthen our teeth, why can’t they tax pop to strengthen our bodies?

Suppose you find yourself needing to shed a few extra pounds AND you’re a little low on dough. The motivation to filet that fat lies in that tax. BOOM-you go for a swig at the rusty water fountain in the back of that Goodwill you’ve been meaning to stop by rather than fork over a buck twenty at the neighboring McDonalds.

You’ve saved some cash and you don’t have to brush your teeth before bed. You’ve got some extra coinage, a few less calories in your system, and a few extra minutes of your life all ‘cause you went with water and not pop. The tax isn’t going to hurt us either, it’s just going to make you think.

Then you look at things like the “recession” and the “miserable economy.” Cigarettes have been ridiculously taxed because not everyone smokes, and the massive taxes on these money suckers creates a profit. A small tax on all soda would be profitable because LOTS of people drink pop. There aren’t many people I know that don’t have a can of knockoff Mountain Dew taking up 12 ounces of space in the back of their fridge.

Back to a controlling government. Is it fair for these yokels to be dishing out rules on what we eat? Probably not, but look at Minnesota’s bar scene. Not a single smoker sits at any Minnesotan bar. They gotta head out back and freeze their ass off if they want their nicotine fix.

I don’t drink a lot of pop, but even if I did I don’t think I’d see a problem in this idea. I think if we just went ahead and did it, paid the extra buck for a twelve pack, then we’d get used to it and carry on as necessary.

If there’s once thing Americans are good at, it’s adapting their spending to individual needs. If you really want that can of Coke, you’ll find a way to get it, damnit. But until then, it’s all up for discussion.

Brad Brookins is a graduate of UW-River Falls.