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Old 05-19-2012, 11:42 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Tannhauser View Post
OK, interesting one.

This is my take on this. Like it or not, all governments need to raise money through taxation. That money is spent on all the things that make a society function. So there is a choice of how that money is raised. It can be taken directly out of your wages or it can be applied to various products that are bought and sold. Either way you're going to have to pay it.

The moral problem I have with elevating individual freedom above all other virtues is that it involves a huge contradiction. Unless you live in a cabin in the woods, and consume nothing, and produce no waste, pretty soon your actions start impinging on other people's freedoms.

To give an obvious example, seven billion people cannot keep consuming the amount of fossil fuels at the rate they have been without (a) using them up and (b) creating significant pollution (I'll leave climate change out of this). Yet everyone insists it's their God given right to drive a car whenever and however they use. It's a monstrous extravagance to power 3500lbs of metal to move a 220 lb human through one mile down, but hey, we're lazy. The consequence of defending those little individual freedoms will be a much greater loss of freedom later on. So in the UK, we have a massive tax on fuel. It's social engineering for sure, but another way to see it is putting the brakes on our own self-destructive selfishness.

To apply this to health: the Scottish government is about to introduce a minimum price of 50p for a unit of alcohol. It will be illegal to sell it for less than that. That's deliberate social engineering, and it could be argued that it restricts the freedom of many people to get as drunk as they possible can. I'm all in favour of this, as it turns out I'm paying for them to exercise their freedom. I pay through funding the National Health Service, and I'm paying through living in a society where alcohol-related crime consumes a disproportionate amount of police resources.

With regard to food, to reiterate a point I made earlier: you are already paying for someone else's freedoms. Your taxes fund medicare, which means that you pay for a proportion of the population to chow down as much unhealthy food as they like - then you pick up the tab for their medical treatment.

And to finish on a general point:

To me, most government intervention isn't about micromanagement. It's about balancing of freedoms. For too long, we've all been playing this tune of 'So long as I've got my freedoms, I don't care.' This pervasive selfishness neglects the impact that we all have upon each other. For all its inefficiencies, corruption and incompetence, the ONLY body in any position to reign in our self-destructive selfishness is the government.
Problem is, especially in the States, is that the tax revenue raised from such taxes don't go towards correcting the issue but rather dumped into the coffers. As has been the trend, increases in revenue has only led to increases in spending with zero effort to correct/reform the system. The orginal problem remains and worsens as does the countries financial situation.

Aside from collecting revenue, taxing negative behavior primarily effects the actions of people who are in the "middle," in which negative behavior X is not very significant in their lives. The person who doesn't want to smoke, drink, or eat bad food is already not going to do so. The person who does either on occasion will simply do it less to avoid the increases in cost. Its these two groups which usually don't have a problem. However, those who want to eat like crap, smoke like a chimney, or get drunk a few days a week will continue to do so because the enjoyment/need outweighs the the increase in cost.

And on another note, with or without additional taxing, junk food is still cheaper than healthier altneratives. 2 bags of chips or a dozen donuts may hit the wallet a little harder, but will still be cheaper than a bag of apples.

Rewarding good behavior is a greater motivator than punishing negative behavior. Most people won't have a major problem digging up a few coins for something they enjoy BUT if you offer them a hundred more dollars in their tax return or significantly cheaper health premiums for good behavior, you'll see many more people oblige to the latter.

The system needs to be reformed rather than pilling on additional taxes and regulations...
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Old 05-19-2012, 11:46 AM   #32
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here's my issue.
The poor, the one's who actually deserve it, not the scammers, use food stamps. they cant afford healthy food, they can usually barely afford the cheap shit, so now they wanna tax the cheaper food, fattier? Awesome. Genius plan that is.
not to mention, if people start buying reduced fat products, they're just trading fats for high carb intake which still adds fat to your body...

I also quite enjoy the fact that no one mentions the cost saving in preventative medicine over reactionary.

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Old 05-19-2012, 12:12 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Pull14 View Post
Aside from collecting revenue, taxing negative behavior primarily effects the actions of people who are in the "middle," in which negative behavior X is not very significant in their lives. The person who doesn't want to smoke, drink, or eat bad food is already not going to do so. The person who does either on occasion will simply do it less to avoid the increases in cost. Its these two groups which usually don't have a problem. However, those who want to eat like crap, smoke like a chimney, or get drunk a few days a week will continue to do so because the enjoyment/need outweighs the the increase in cost.
I've heard that argument before, but the evidence doesn't bear it out, at least with regard to alcohol. Take a look at the WHO report. Here's the abstract, with my emboldening:

Quote:
There is a substantial evidence base on the effectiveness of different policies in reducing the harm done by alcohol. Policies that regulate the economic and physical availability of alcohol are effective in reducing alcohol-related harm. Enforced legislative measures to reduce drinking and driving and interventions individually directed to drinkers already at risk are also effective. The evidence shows that information and education programmes do not reduce alcohol-related harm; nevertheless, they have a role in providing information, reframing alcohol-related problems and increasing attention to alcohol on the political and public agendas. In all parts of the European Union, population-based interventions represent a highly cost– effective use of resources to reduce alcohol-related harm. Brief interventions for individual high-risk drinkers are also cost–effective, but are harder toscale up because of their associated training and manpower needs.
Anecdotally ( I have no figures on this), taxation has worked in altering consumer choices with regard to cars. We have road tax of over $600 a year for the most polluting cars, and high tax levies on petrol. As a result, Mercs that cost $90,000 new now sell for peanuts. Reason? They're dinosaurs. The UK government has priced them out of most people's price range. I ran a 557 bhp car for some years - but I just couldn't afford it now.

What you're saying makes a great deal of sense, but on the specific issue of whether the these negative inducements work, I'd maintain that they do.
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Old 05-19-2012, 12:27 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by TitanCT View Post
here's my issue.
The poor, the one's who actually deserve it, not the scammers, use food stamps. they cant afford healthy food, they can usually barely afford the cheap shit, so now they wanna tax the cheaper food, fattier? Awesome. Genius plan that is.
Yeah, that's one big flaw, which Pull and maybe Steve also mentioned. Junk food is still going to be cheaper. But I guess that one reason junk food is cheap is because there's an enormous mass market for it. Economies of scale and all that. If Doritos were priced out of the market, and the only choice was, er, beetroot (for example), would the cost of beetroot come down?

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I also quite enjoy the fact that no one mentions the cost saving in preventative medicine over reactionary.
Not sure what you're driving at here. Isn't the idea behind the policy one of prevention being cheaper than 'reactionary' measures?
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Old 05-19-2012, 02:44 PM   #35
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Americuh, **** yeah!

(It'll blatantly happen here too...)
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Old 05-19-2012, 02:59 PM   #36
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Americuh, **** yeah!

(It'll blatantly happen here too...)
Don't shoot the messenger ...found this:

'Fat tax' on unhealthy food must raise prices by 20% to have effect, says study | Society | The Guardian
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Old 05-19-2012, 02:59 PM   #37
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How would we live if we didn't have the Govenment protecting us from ourselves? Everybody would run around all willy-nilly pursuing freedom and happiness.
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Old 05-19-2012, 03:07 PM   #38
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Interesting article. The subtitle is:

Quote:
Researchers say levy on junk food should be accompanied by subsidies for fruit and vegetables
Also:

Quote:
Research in America found that a 35% tax on drinks sweetened with sugar sold in a canteen, which added about 28p to the price, led to a 26% drop in sales. Studies have estimated that a 20% levy on such drinks in the US would cut obesity by 3.5% and that adding 17.5% to the cost of unhealthy food products in the UK could lead to 2,700 fewer deaths from heart disease.
Which was followed by:

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But the food industry attacked the research
Quelle surprise.
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Old 05-19-2012, 03:12 PM   #39
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Giant food firms fail to back battle against obesity | Business | The Observer

All the studies, government ideas aside...my issue is, concerning the ideal of cutting calories, as seen in the article above, that when I was training hard, it took a lot for me to maintain just over 125 lb bodyweight on around 3,000+ calories; it's not always about the amount of calories, sometimes it's about what people are doing with them, that's what they are so blatantly overlooking.

They are taking calories, fat, sugar, out of context.
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Old 05-19-2012, 11:36 PM   #40
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Not sure what you're driving at here. Isn't the idea behind the policy one of prevention being cheaper than 'reactionary' measures?
there was a line in the article that made me think of that. in fact i went back and edited that post to add it after re-reading the article.
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