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Soda tax: Better than fabled 7 Cities of Gold
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One serving has 602 calories. There are 10 grams of saturated fats, no healthy fats, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,182 milligrams of sodium (just over half the average daily requirement), 7 grams of sugar, and absolutely no traces of healthy vitamins or minerals.
Now compare that to a 16-ounce bottle of Pepsi. It has 200 calories. There are no saturated fats, no healthy fats, 40 milligram of sodium, 55 grams of sugar, and absolutely no traces of healthy vitamins or minerals.
And a 16-ounce Starbucks Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino has 400 calories. It contains 10 grams of saturated fats (50 percent of a healthy average daily intake), 55 grams of cholesterol, 240 grams of sodium, 57 grams of sugar, and has about a fifth of the daily requirement of Vitamin A and calcium.
Knowing what fats, sodium, and sugar if consumed in excess for a long period of time can do to you, the Pepsi would be healthier for you than the “mystery food” in the first graph. As a drink in many aspects it does less damage than a stop at Starbucks.
So which item did the Philadelphia City Council justify slapping a tax on in the name of making us all healthier? It isn’t the first item that happens to be the trademark food of the City of Brotherly Love — a Philly cheese steak sandwich. Nor is it the beverage of choice for the ruling class that can afford to plunk down $5 at Starbucks for a 16 ounce beverage as opposed to those that spend $1.19 for a bottled soda from 7-Eleven.
Yes, it is the Pepsi. The tax Philadelphia imposed is the equivalent of 24 cents for a 16 ounce bottle. That’s roughly a 25 percent sin tax. Even cigarettes aren’t taxed that aggressively except in New York City.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney — who happens to be Democrat as if that matters any more — was a bit too honest in supporting the tax. Other backers waxed eloquently about how it could make Philadelphia, a city where 69 percent of the adults and 41 percent of the children are either overweight or obese, a healthier city. Instead of talking about public health, he talked about public interest.
The mayor noted most Americans don’t like the government telling them what’s healthy for them to consume. That is why he stayed away by arguing the soda sin tax was about health. Kenny said any health benefits the tax creates would be a bonus. In other words what he wanted was more tax revenue.
Too bad someone didn’t point out to the mayor that most Americans don’t like the government boosting taxes on them either.
But then again this is all about the ruling class — the lions if you will — culling the zebra herd or taxpayers in a bid to chase down the weakest and feasting on it.
You know the drill. Soda drinkers are weak. They are engaged in an unhealthy habit. They are fat. Their kids are fat. They’re uneducated. They need someone to look after their best interests. And they’ve been demonized enough that the self-righteous won’t defend them against a targeted tax.
Just so it’s clear I do not drink coffee nor soda — diet or otherwise. I also do not eat Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. Based on what I do consume — except maybe for fresh chocolate chip cookies — the odds of my paying a sin tax for consuming foods or drinks the government has decided is unsafe for me are about as great as Nancy Pelosi agreeing to be Donald Trump’s running mate.
At first glance the sin tax on soda in Mexico — heralded by the politically correct crowd when it was imposed three years ago — looks like it is ineffective. After an initial drop in per capita consumption soda drinking has come roaring back and is now higher than ever. The only real change is soda drinkers have less money in their pocket.
But is that really a failure? Remember that Philadelphia’s mayor said it wasn’t about public health for him but public interest. Freely translated, that means the soda sin tax puts more money in the hands of the government from the pockets of consumers to re-distribute as they see fit.
Mexico, by the way, isn’t thinking about dropping its soda tax even though it isn’t doing what advocates said it would do which is lower soda consumption and in turn help reduce that country’s obesity rate. In fact there is talk about increasing the soda tax in Mexico. Government officials in Mexico City have obviously stumbled on to something more valuable than the elusive Seven Cities of Gold Spanish explorer Francisco Coronado failed to find — soda taxes.

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.