The useful idiots behind the soda tax

Cities and municipalities throughout the country are struggling with the ever increasing costs of the public employee salaries, pensions,and health benefits that they promised when times were good.  It used to be that those cities could pass tax increases by claiming they were needed for police and firefighters, and of course, the children.  But, people are wising up.  Now what?

Enter, stage left, some in the health care industry, who firmly believe they are doing the right thing by advocating a tax on soda, but, who, in reality, are simply being used.  Richmond, California is a classic example.

In May, Richmond’s City Council agreed to put a measure on the November ballot to charge businesses a penny for every ounce of [soda] they sell in the city. If it passes, it would be the first city tax of its kind in the nation and the first to be approved by voters.

…health advocates…are saying the measure could help address the nation’s obesity problem.

Let’s dissect that.

First, the tax is imposed upon the business that sells the soda, not the consumer. That penny per ounce translates into 72 cents for every six pack of soda sold.  Do the folks in Richmond, who will be voting on this tax, really believe that their local grocery store or convenience mart will simply eat the tax?

And, second, is the money raised by this tax earmarked exclusively to fight obesity, childhood or otherwise?

…many [Richmond] City Council colleagues have promised to the use the revenue from the levy to fight childhood obesity, although there would be no such mandate to do so. [emphasis supplied]

Of course there is “no such mandate”.  Just as your gasoline taxes no longer are dedicated to repairing your roads and bridges, your soda tax will suffer the same fate.  It will go into “general revenue” to pay for promises to unions.

Hopefully the voters in Richmond, California will realize this.

And as to the health advocates that make it appear the proposed tax has something to do with health, they will move on to yet another gullible community with financial problems whose commissioners are desperately seeking both a new revenue source, and the useful idiots who will help them get that source.


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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. ABO (Romney/Ryan 2012) on August 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Whats to stop you from going one town over and buying soda and whatever else you need

    • Benjamin Less on August 13, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      You will need a picture I.D. to purchase soda in the State.? When you buy in a near-by town that does not have the 1 cent per ounce tax enacted, you are requested to show I.D. that you’re a resident of said town/city.? At every boarder of each town not compliant in the 1 cent per ounce legislation, there will be road blocks with State Police checking your vehicle and receipts for goods inside.? They may do a sobriety test on you too, not like alcohol, rather a burping test.?? Two burps you’re cuffed.

    • ABO (Romney/Ryan 2012) on August 13, 2012 at 7:57 pm


    • ricbee on August 13, 2012 at 11:19 pm

      Soon there will tankers & tankards of smuggled Pepsi.

  2. Dimsdale on August 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    This is as bad as the ever increasing cigarette taxes.? They say that it is to stop smoking, and, in fact, some people do quit due to costs, but most don’t, and it impacts lower income folks more.? It is nothing by a money making scheme.? If they really wanted to make a dent (not stop: see Prohibition), they would outlaw it and be true to their claimed concerns.
    The real problem comes if enough people actually do what the pols want, and quit, or worse, die, cutting off the new flow of income the pols have used to increase/create more entitlement programs, i.e. the dreaded general fund.??
    You can just smell the increase in taxes on the rest of us, can’t you?

  3. ricbee on August 13, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    I do think “soda” & other personal sized drinks(including the alleged calorie free)is the primary cause of obesity in the USA today,but a”penny”? It’s just another tax on the fat & lax.

    • Benjamin Less on August 14, 2012 at 1:14 am

      There have been a couple of studies on diet soft drinks that are completely unfounded unless you’re injecting saccharin 10 times the lab rat’s weight each day.
      The real question is the actual 64 oz bottles of soft drink people purchase at discount prices.? Usually you’ll see bi-annual promotions of Pepsi and Coke sell their product @ 4 for $5.00 price point or at $1.25 a bottle plus 5 cent deposit. ? Now you do a new math.? Add $2.56 and your grand total comes out to be $7.56 plus tax.? That’s a hefty sum especially for soft drinks that hold little water on scientific “weight gain” claims.

  4. JBS on August 14, 2012 at 6:31 am

    So, the good voters in Richmond, California, pass their “tiny tax” on soda. Does this include flavored water? Seltzer? How about just bottled water? Where does it stop?
    My first concern is that if the good voters in Richmond, California, were really concerned about obesity, the proposed tax would be greater. The health people would ensure that the money confiscated would go to fighting obesity, whatever that is.
    Secondly, when all of the good people of Richmond, California, do get tired of paying the extra tax money, they will skip to the next town and get their soda fix.
    What then? Ah, just like O-Care, everyone will be expected everyone to participate. It’s only fair. Thus, every year you will get a tax bill for the amount of soda the government of Richmond thinks you should consume and you will owe the tax on that. You will have two choices: either pay the tax or prove that you already bought that much soda and paid the tax. Either way, you paid the tax. And, it will only increase.

  5. stinkfoot on August 14, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Problem number one- getting voters to stop seeing the government as the ultimate agent of change to address issues that in one way or another precipitated from cultural decay.? If people in general stopped looking at the federal government at their benevolent advocate then they wouldn’t need others to point out the lies as they are being delivered.

  6. Brutus on August 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    The tax has nothing to do with health. It will be another means to advance the socialist agenda by controlling the people.


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