Love when this happens. How many times must he have to restrain himself, and then finally he just can’t stop himself from pointing out how utterly, profoundly stupid she is.
This time it was in response to this hysterical Facebook post:
And then comes Dan, who must ask himself in dismay every single day how he ever went out with this aggressively stupid bonehead:
Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, all legal.
Distilled alcohol – legal – after Prohibition turned the entire country into the OK Corral.
Military-grade firearms – still legal despite >100k firearms deaths since the 1970s.
When products have a popular following and a strong producer constituency (lobby), we rarely ban them, even if they are sometimes dangerous.
Advertising for legal products is only rarely restricted (tobacco is the exception that proves the rule, and was the result of unprecedented litigation).
In all of these cases, like sugar, salt and fat, the substance or object in question is perfectly safe – if used correctly – and highly dangerous if it is abused. That makes outright bans both difficult to enforce and highly unpopular.
It’s also generally the case that product bans are regressive.
Most drug/alcohol prohibitions are over-enforced on the poor and minorities and under-enforced on the rich. The crack vs cocaine sentencing disparity is one obvious example, but it is generally agreed that trivial drug offenses can ruin a young black person’s life and are much less likely to result in imprisonment or to dog a young middle class white person into adulthood.
Taxing food that is bad for you makes sense only if consumers are sensitive to the price increase (ie, a few cents on the dollar for soda, candy and chips matters to them), which really means targeting the price-sensitive – that is, the poor.
Rich people won’t blink an eye at paying a few cents more for chips and soda (that’s why cig taxes are so insanely high – they won’t impact the middle class if they’re not >100% of the cost of the product).
The poor, however, are by definition price sensitive and* are always* disproportionately and negatively impacted by consumption taxes (gas tax, sales tax).
That’s why GOP proposals to do away with income taxes and tax consumption are vastly harsher on the poor – they spend a much larger percentage of their income on consumption (they don’t/can’t save or invest).
A tax only does something productive, however, if people are sensitive to it and either reduce consumption in absolute terms, and buy less food (hard to imagine, since we have a massive* food insecurity – that is, starvation – problem), or they buy non-taxed items. That’s a productive substitution, from a policy standpoint only* if the substituted product is healthy.
The thing is…
Poor people often live in food deserts. There isn’t a struggling Whole Foods with empty aisles and rotting organic kale in the ghetto – there’s nothing* healthy* there*.
I don’t/can’t eat wheat, milk, or sucrose and there are huge chunks of the country where there is almost nothing I can eat on the menu – including in mom-and-pop diners and non- chain local places. Anything I can eat – say, steak and eggs at a diner – is usually the most expensive item for sale. I know this for a fact because I drive in and out of small towns whenever there’s construction between Champaign and Chicago (read: often).
I looked at these ‘SNAP challenge’ diets – totally impossible to do with my restrictions. You simply must* eat refined flours and dairy to get up to 2000 calories at the level of poverty where food stamps are available. Period.
It would be nice if organic, or just healthy-ish food was easy to get in the inner city and poor, rural areas, but there are reasons why it isn’t unrelated to consumer demand.
Blaming consumer ignorance or decision making (and punishing it with taxes) is victim- blaming. Healthy food is expensive and perishable. Poor people, particularly those far from major highways and distribution centers can’t afford what Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sell, and it can’t get there in quantities and at times that are logistically manageable. It’s not profitable for them to locate stores in such areas, so they don’t.
If poor people suddenly couldn’t afford sugar and refined flour based foods, they wouldn’t spontaneously get the money to afford free range eggs and grass-only beef – the untaxed items they substitute would either be loophole items (sugary juices instead of soda, for example) or they would do what they do when cigarette taxes get too high – buy them on the black market.
That’s what the dude who got choked to death by the police in NYC was doing – selling untaxed black market cigs on the street.
I’m not particularly interested in seeing Twinkie dealers go to jail with murderers and rapists…