New York’s OBESITY TAX…social engineering or prudent fiscal policy?

New York state Governor David Paterson is introducing a new 15%  “Obesity Tax” on high-calorie soft drinks. Milk, fruit juices, bottled water and “diet” soft drinks will be exempt from the new tax.

When reached for comment, executives from Coca Cola and Pepsi were quoted as saying:

“that son of a bi#ch Paterson! Who the fu*k does he think he is? Does he really want to go to war with us? If he thought The Sopranos were tough, wait until I get my hands on him, I’ll rip him a new as#h@le! bleep… bleep…bleep

They went on like that for about 20 minutes. Eventually, I just gave up on the interview. And they weren’t the only ones losing it:

  • Noted Fat Acceptance guru Kate Harding had a few choice words on her blog.
  • Right wing blowhard Rush Limbaugh claimed to have predicted this 14 years ago. Must have been when he was hooked on the Oxycontin.
  • Kevin Keane, senior VP-public affairs at the American Beverage Association, said the organization has reached out to New York Gov. David Patterson’s office regarding the proposed tax on full-calorie sodas. “It looks like a money grab. [Mr. Patterson] is trying to grab money anywhere he can find it,” Mr. Keane said. “This is a time when the government, just like families, needs to tighten its belt.” Mr. Keane went on to question the validity of an ‘obesity tax‘ on full-calorie soda, given data that show that obesity rates are rising even as soft-drink sales are flat. He also said the soft-drink industry provides the state with plenty of jobs, including union jobs. PepsiCo is based in Purchase, N.Y., and major bottlers are also based in New York.blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah……

Let’s Recap

  • New York state is having trouble balancing it’s budget. No big surprise. Apparently the U.S. has been in recession for a full year now.
  • Governments raise taxes to increase their revenues.
  • Fat people are an easy target…no pun intended
  • New York city and other various levels of government have already enacted legislation in order to curb obesity.
  • Slapping a tax on a product linked to obesity is a no-brainer in the current political, economic and social environment.

But will it work?

  • cornSoft drink companies are heavily subsidized through their use of HFCS as their main ingredient. So what we have here is one level of government taxing a product and another level of government subsidizing it….SMART
  • Soft drinks are cheap!    If a 2 liter bottle of Coke costs $2.00, the new “fat tax” will add 30 cents to the bill. 30 cents!!! Who can’t come up with another 30 cents? Do they really think that this extra expense is going to cause obese New Yorkers to forgo their purchase of a vanilla Coke?   Hmmm, let’s see, buy that bottle of Pepsi or pay the rent. What to do, what to do…

My Conclusion

This tax is designed to bring more money into the state’s near empty coffers. Period.

It is not going to entice anyone to drink less pop.

It will however, make it easier to add new taxes or even slap bans on other forms of junk food. And won’t that really tick off the fat Acceptance crowd.


  1. Even if it’s just a money grab, I can’t help thinking that it seems like an appealing idea. And it’s not actually a “fat” tax, in that thin people drink that crap too. I know you can’t legislate people’s health piecemeal, but it seems like economically the incentives right now are all in the wrong places. We subsidize corn, junk food is cheap, and we make it impossible for small healthy local growers to compete with the industrial giants.

    But we all end up paying for health costs later down the line. Heck, if they can tax cigarettes, soda’s seem like a good target too.

    Maybe they should lower the tax on wine to make up for it!

  2. I guess one argument could be that they could use those funds for medical treatment of obesity, diabetes etc. However, with a medical system like the USA’s its hard to argue that case too.

  3. I read another article with the governor where he speaks about putting these tax revenues back into health programs, but, somehow I have a feeling they are just going to end up in the general revenue pot.

  4. I really can’t believe how idiotic the author of this article is. But I am even more amazed by the even dumber flock of imbecils chattering in agreement with this smug and inane drivel.

    We are in the midst of a recession, and this idiot governor, who is also increasing welfare benefits btw, is passing an obesity tax on people buying soda? Huh? Given the obesity issue that the government of NY itself seems to have (billions in debt, large, useless programs, etc), it would seem that would be a more apt place to trim the fat as it were.

    What happened to the land of the free? If you zombies ever woke up from your large government sweet dreams you’d realize that this is a direct assault on your freedoms. What’s next? Legislating whether gravy and glucose rich mashed potatoes are OK on thanksgiving? Perhaps we will need a stuffing permit.

    Government Paterson has no right to tell me what I should be eating, nor penalizing me for those choices (and incidentally, I work out every day and do not drink soda of any kind – NOT obese), and neither do self righteous, “fat appeasement crowd” lambasting, non-Americans like you.

  5. Oh, where to begin?

    My dear Obnoxious American reader:

    1. If you are going to insult my audience by calling them imbeciles, could you at least spell imbecile / imbecil correctly

    2. Your claim that Governor Patterson doesn’t have the “right” to influence your dietary choices is moot at best. In theory, Ron Paul and I would agree with you that we have allowed / encouraged our governments to create virtual nanny states out of both our countries. However, in practice, your government has been telling you what you can put into your body for a very long time….the war against drugs, cigarette taxes, liquor taxes, federal tax dollars spent to subsidize certain agricultural crops while neglecting others, etc…

    3. Self-righteous…hmmm, well, I am pretty confident in my own POV. Maybe I am self righteous?…. But, am I intolerant of others??? …I don’t know. Maybe if I had an example of intolerance to compare myself to. Now where can I find an example of intolerance???

    Anyway, glad you dropped by. Feel free to leave a comment anytime.

    Merry Christmas

  6. Thanks Brit,

    I read that piece. I also saw another one where someone suggested that Prez-Elect Obama name Michael Pollan as the head of the USDA.

  7. It definitely isn’t a simple topic.

    Personally, I can’t stand the gov’t telling me how to live my life. But if we could prevent our kids from growing up fat, unhealthy and prone to various chronic diseases….

    I think we keep coming back to the same 2 problems

    1. What the medical establishment tells us about the cause of obesity is WRONG
    2. Personal responsibility has gone the way of the dodo bird – people, corporations, government, etc..

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