Wednesday, New York's Governor David Patterson unveiled a proposed $121-billion budget for next year, which includes a barrage or 88 new or higher taxes and fees to help close a $15.4-billion gap. Among the new revenue raisers are an "I-Pod tax" on downloaded music, sales taxes on cable and satellite TV, new taxes on movie tickets, taxi rides, beer, wine, cigars and massages, and my favorite, an "obesity tax" on sugared soda. So lay off the Coke, unless it's sugar free. The Governor says it's bad for you.
An astonishing number of otherwise sensible people have jumped in to agree with Patterson that the approximately 18% tax on Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper with sugar is just what the doctor ordered so that New Yorkers can shed the zillion pounds of fat we're carrying around.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof opined instantly to the effect that sugary drinks are the new cigarettes. Whereas "some scholars believe they have become a major source of obesity," he wrote, a daily dose of root beer will kill you dead. One such concerned scholar he relies on is -- I could not make this up -- "Barry Popkin, a nutrition specialist at the University of North Carolina and author of the excellent new book, 'The World Is Fat'."
Here's the thing about all this: like millions of other Americans, I've been trying to lose -- or keep off -- some ugly, unwanted fat for years. But the number of sugared sodas I drank in the past three decades you could count on your fingers. I don't need no damn Coke to stay fat! Give me ice cream, pasta, potatoes, fried chicken, candy, pie, cake, cookies, tarts, Danishes, bagels with cream cheese, ribs dripping with sauce, quiche, Big Macs, turkey with dressing, eggs benedict, more gravy, extra helpings -- and I can manage to stay quite fat enough, thank you.
Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg, I already have to read the number of calories contained in every Starbucks muffin I buy. Now, the handwriting is on the wall:
-- First they taxed Coke, and I said nothing, because I didn't drink Coke.
-- Then, they rationed donuts, and I said nothing, because I don't like donuts.
-- Then, they banned Big macs, and I said nothing, because I can live without McDonalds.
-- Then, finally??? I dunno where it all ends.
But I'm getting hungry. I need to go get a snack.