In Sunday’s Washington Post, Katherine Mangu-Ward of Reason Magazine takes down the five favorite talking points being used by proponents of a sin tax on soda. Her response to to the often repeated line that “obesity is driving health-care costs up and that a soda tax is just a user fee” captures the greater issue at hand–a move toward government control over the smallest of decisions in the name of reducing heath-care costs:
But there is a dangerous precedent at the root of this argument: that government can and should tax any behavior that hurts the budget’s bottom line. That logic sends us down a strange road. It’s just a slouch, sink and a slump to taxing remote controls, thus encouraging the fat and lazy to get a little exercise by standing up to change the channel. All kinds of private decisions — good and bad — affect government spending. That doesn’t give politicians the right to use taxes to push people around.