Senate leaders are looking into slapping a three-cent tax on soda and other sugary drinks as one way to cover the estimated $1.2 trillion cost of the new health care plan that President Obama and Congressional Democrats are keen to create this year. And the idea has its boosters:
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based watchdog group that pressures food companies to make healthier products, plans to propose a federal excise tax on soda, certain fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks and ready-to-drink teas. It would not include most diet beverages.
Proponents of the tax cite research showing that consuming sugar-sweetened drinks can lead to obesity, diabetes and other ailments. They say the tax would lower consumption, reduce health problems and save medical costs...
"Soda is clearly one of the most harmful products in the food supply, and it's something government should discourage the consumption of," Mr. Jacobson said.
An astonishing number of otherwise sensible people jumped in to agree with Patterson that a tax on Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper was 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 almost 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'." Despite such persuasive supporters, the Governor's proposal fizzled.
But 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, turkey with dressing, eggs benedict, more gravy, extra helpings -- and I can manage to stay quite fat enough, thank you.
In fact, thanks to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, I already have to read the number of calories contained in every Starbucks muffin I eat. Now, the handwriting is on the wall:
-- First they taxed Coke, and I said nothing, because I didn't drink Coke.
-- Then, they rationed Cheetos, and I said nothing, because I don't like Cheetos.
-- Then, they banned Big Macs, and I said nothing, because I can live without McDonalds.
-- Then, they shut down Ben & Jerry's, and I still said nothing, because I always like Hagen Daz better.
-- Then, finally, they siezed all the Goobers, Raisenets, Snickers, Twizzlers, Milk Duds and Dots from all the movie concession stands, but all the other junk food addicts had gone on diets and I was too weak to resist.
Enough of this. I'm getting hungry. I need to go get a snack.