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twinkie taxAfter whetting its appetite with sin taxes on tobacco, alcohol and marijuana, local and state governments are licking their collective lips at the prospect of the money to be made taxing soft drinks and 'unhealthy' foods. Of course, this "Twinkie Tax" is defended as a move to improve the nation's health, but I don't buy it.

I do accept that there are a great many activists who support such a tax because they are convinced it would help stem our plague of obesity.

As Gary Sattler reported, a recent study concluded that those so afflicted spend $1,400 a year more for health care, and I can't argue that proportionate weight isn't a boon to health. However, taxing Cheetos and Chips Ahoy, Coke and curly fries won't accomplish anything but pad the government's pork pie.
Unlike tobacco or alcohol or recreational drugs, one cannot quit food. Those who work hard physical jobs can consume many more calories in a day that the more sedentary among us. Why should the government make it harder for them to afford a double croissan'wich with double sausage, if they can burn it off by noon?

These foods are popular not because we harbor some secret death wish, but because they taste good. How much tax would we have to put on a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup to stop us from buying one when we have the urge?

How many people who want an alcoholic drink don't due so because of the tax? Very few, I believe. Taxing to shape behavior doesn't work unless the tax level approaches that of tobacco. Would the public tolerate potato chips at $20 a bag?

Yes, as a nation we need to learn to eat more wisely, but is this the right approach? Did you teach your kids to moderate the number of cookies they eat by hiding the bag from them? Not successfully, I bet.

People will find a way to get what they want, tax be damned. The only way to reverse the nation's weight problem is to change what we want.

Taxing fat foods isn't the answer to any question except, "How can we raise more tax money?" Education, exercise opportunities, counseling, support, and drugs can all help move the needle of the scale.

Yet the same governments that want to tax Mountain Dew at the carryout are cutting out funding for physical education in the schools systems, as though that was fat that could be trimmed away.

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