Sugar and spice and everything nice. Everything nice, and…taxable. The not-so-distant rumble from state and federal governments is yet another tax freight train rounding the bend. We are on the cusp of being taxed for soft drinks and cheeseburgers, under the guise of early compensation for the anticipated damage they will do to their consumers. The tax collectors, ever vigilant for new and improved ways to abscond with more of our income, are now targeting our eating habits as the source of their next cash cow, no pun intended.
It’s funny, we don’t even talk about “slippery slopes” anymore. It’s as though the taxed-to-death public is punch drunk, staggering around the ring, bleeding from the nostrils, seeing double 1040 forms. It must be that the ever increasing tax on cigarettes is reaching the point where even politicians know that asking for more will soon be laughable. A perfect example of the blurred line between “concern for public safety” and not wanting to rock the boat of a veritable money machine. Afterall, if it was really about public safety, the health of the masses, curbing the public appetite for “bad” things, then we wouldn’t even allow the manufacture of cigarettes, would we? We complain about smokers and the tobacco industry, but every state coffer benefits immensely from those tax dollars.
And now…Pepsi and cheeseburgers? Really, is there a point where reasonable people can agree that maybe…just maybe…government is getting a little big for its britches? Is this truly what most Americans want, a nanny government slapping our hand when we reach for the cookie jar or a Twinkie? The specter of “Food Police” breaking the door down and dusting for Cheeto residue or cakes with cream filling, all under the pretense of protecting people who overeat or eat poorly, should be a tough sell. Instead, it seems lost in the cacophony of looney proposed government policies, and the public seems to shrug it off as no big deal.
It is a big deal, though. It’s a big deal because it ignores so many other greater problems in our culture, like 10% unemployment, the demise of the traditional family, rampant violence against children, rampant violence against adults, a generation of youngsters that have been raised by a tv screen or computer monitor, and on and on.
It’s a big deal because it’s just a money-grab from the people who can least afford it. Cheeseburgers? How many times can that little beef pattie be taxed before it reaches my stomach? Let’s start with the farmer who raises the cow. He makes a small profit and is taxed by the government. The guy he buys grain from is taxed on the profits from his grain business. The land which comprises the farm is subject to property tax.
The truck that delivers the beef to McDonalds pays a diesel fuel tax, registration fees and a federal tax. The trucker pays income tax and the trucking company pays taxes on their profits, assuming they have any. The trucker needs insurance to carry that hamburger and the insurance company pays taxes on their income…well…if they have any profit after distributing bonuses to CEO’s.
Finally, McDonalds cooks the hamburger, passes it to the consumer by way of an employee who also pays income tax, and then the consumer pays his cheeseburger tax, because he is a bad person and must be punished. Hopefully, eventually, nobody will want, or be able to afford, a cheeseburger or a sweet drink or pastry, and the guy who raises the cow can just go out of business and get a job at Wal-Mart like the rest of us.
Or, maybe, we let people make their own choices and pay the consequences that nature deems fit. It’s not a slippery slope at all, really, it’s a swan dive into the Grand Canyon. How ridiculous it’s all become. The notion that someone’s repeated calls to Pakistan might be monitored by the NSA brought a media-frenzy and the usual chorus of “Big Brother” naysayers. Why then, when that same government, under a different President, suggests something ten times more invasive, and with no link to national security, is the silence so deafening? We should remember the old adage…if you criminalize cheeseburgers, only criminals will have cheeseburgers.