Junk food taxing:
In this increasingly health conscious age, there has been intense debate about the effects of junk foods. One such issue revolves around taxing junk food to try and phase them out of our diets. But there is no need for a special tax on junk food, nor an extra tax, or any other kind of tax. Several factors are involved including questions over stealth taxing, what to tax and how, who it hurts or benefits, and how society should deal with junk foods.
Junk foods and other foods should have their prices altered wholesale so that healthier foods cost less than junk food. At least that way the good companies would get the profits from their healthy produce and others would be penalised from pumping out the junk. If there was any tax, that would go to the government for their own use, no matter the stipulations placed upon the tax to be used to tackle obesity and healthy causes. We here in Britain have heard it all before with other tax initiatives obstinately to help in certain causes, but they just end up as stealth taxes – extra revenue-boosting schemes for the government that get channelled away from public works. A junk food tax would just be another stealth tax; a waste of time and effort.
This debate about junk food taxing was raised recently in the UK when Dr. David Walker, a food scientist and nutritionist, argued that chocolate should be taxed in order to reduce obesity levels and type 2 diabetes occurrences. He reckoned that chocolate had slipped through the net, escaping being maligned as an unhealthy habit as bad as fast foods, alcohol, and cigarettes. In the end, this comfort food could be damaging to your health. But should it be taxed? No, rather chocolate prices should be regulated so that the price goes up and those nations that grow the cacao bean are paid their fair share, rather than our own governments squandering any chocolate taxes. Taxing Chocolate would be a preposterous idea and it would be better to re-market such confections away from children or to have more restraint over its consumption.
Junk food could alter human evolution. Most societies are becoming more obese due to high calorific intakes and low exercise regimes. The physical human is getting bigger, but living longer, and costing health services much more to maintain our unhealthy lifestyles. There is a solution here and that is to refuse or reduce medical services to those who make themselves ill though the over-abundance of junk food (or cigarettes and alcohol). But that isn’t the politically correct option. But it could be under a literal reading of the Survival of the Fittest paradigm. If people cannot look after their genes, which will corrupt future generations, then they should be left to die off naturally, leaving the fittest behind. Simplistic, flawed maybe, but such actions could bear fruit (no pun intended) and create a more health-conscious society. Otherwise if obesity becomes the norm, for whatever reason, it could be seen as an advantage and positively selected for in future genetic mutations. Special taxes would not discourage junk food eating, thus Mother Nature would still win out, with humanity possibly evolving into a naturally obese species.
To balance the equation, for those who do not believe in natural selection, then as their body is a temple, they shouldn’t ruin it through unhealthy practices, like eating unnecessary junk food. While Jesus may have befriended tax collectors, he was against unnecessary or excessive taxes, which junk food taxes would be as they would not benefit people affected by junk food illnesses. Society should be a self-regulating system with reasonable constraints and better incentives and if a bad diet means dying early, then so be it. If self-preservation and respect for others is not incentive enough to live healthily, then special taxes will not help deter junk food eating either.
Poor and Hungry:
Special junk food taxes would deprive poorer people of food since cheap junk food is a main food source. But if poorer people subsisted on poor food then they would not be around long enough to enjoy any benefits (no pun intended) from eating healthy food. If they cannot afford to pay for junk food which may be taxed, then they might as well buy healthier food at lower prices. There is no excuse for keeping poorer people on unhealthy food, but again, taxing them is not the answer. A nanny state trying to deprive people of junk food through higher taxes won’t work. It has not worked for cigarettes or alcohol. Even now, the UK government is debating whether to raise prices on beer, rather than solely relying on taxes. Taxes will only harm someone buying junk food, which is the point, but the poor will be deprived twice over, by having extra money taken from them and then not having that money invested back into their health services. There are other options to taxing, which will not make the poor, poorer and hungry.
Imagine the future of taxes. We would end up with scenarios from the Sylvester Stallone film Demolition Man (1993), where every bad thing, including human bodily contact, was either taxed or banned. On the surface everything seemed perfect, but in reality there was a thriving black market underground in all things bad. We might not be going down this extreme route, but over-taxing will just lead to an equal and opposite reaction and a rise in black market activities. The laissez faire attitude towards foods should be tightened with food prices being regulated to fit the crime: Good food low prices; bad foods high prices. Simple. The only thing that should be taxed is our attitude towards changing our eating habits and that should be achieved through education, rather than monetary punishment.
Last, is a plea that will no doubt fall upon deaf ears. The food industry has to take a look at itself and the service it provides. Yes, their remit is to make lots of food for lots of money, but they have a responsibility in what they produce. Sooner or later, more legislation will force them to provide healthier foods at cheaper prices, negating the need for special junk food taxes. The best policies against junk food diets are education, physical exercise, and regulation of the food industry. This can be done without hurting people in the pocket.