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Let those without sin be the first to tax themselves for non-PC habits
dennis Wyatt web
Dennis Wyatt

Some health experts refer to it as “the drug of choice” each day for 180 million Americans.

It can lead to high cholesterol, heart disease and osteoporosis.

We need to slap a sin tax on it – two cents an ounce sounds about right – so the state of California can raise $2 billion annually on the premise of educating people about healthier diets.

Yes, we need to tax and regulate coffee sales just like lawmakers are now clamoring to tax and regulate soda and sugary drinks. Much like college students cramming for exams jacked up on seven 8-ounce espressos, lawmakers are churning out bills left and right to go after soda. There are no less than five bills being introduced that would tax soda more effectively than marijuana and would even control how stores sell soda even more stringently than the state does with pot shops.

To be absolutely clear where I’m coming from, I once easily consumed upwards of 96 ounces of soda a day. My drugs of choice were either Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, or RC Cola. I have not drank soda for at least 12 years save for several sips I take from Cynthia’s glass about once a month when we are at a Mexican restaurant and I’ve finished my meal.

I get the health concerns but I also see the reality.

I’m sure the lawmakers who have whipped up the latest anti-soda legislation aren’t daily costumers of 7-Eleven style stores where they can observe people who buy soda. Not all in need of government assistance, but a number will buy other items with a SNAP card and then pay for a soda. Among these are the some people who will buy cigarettes that are taxed to death. Realizing they aren’t using the SNAP card to buy either, they are on limited incomes and aren’t refraining from buying cigarettes that are heavily laden with sin taxes. Just a wild guess, but I’m sure the same thing will happen that those who can ill afford soda will keep buying it when a tax is slapped on sugary drinks if the efforts of Assemblyman David Chiu succeeds.

Chiu is clear where he stands: “The soda industry is the new tobacco industry.”

Perhaps he has a point as you can already buy single servings of various soft drink brands in powder form to mix your own. Just like those devils in the tobacco industry are investing in vaping and legal marijuana, the soda industry is obviously trying to weasel around the Nanny State tendencies of many lawmakers.

Chiu’s anti-soda measure, however, is about as well-thought out as someone building a full-scale Titanic replica in the middle of Death Valley and after finishing it realizing they have to figure a way to get it somehow to the Pacific Ocean.

Chiu wants a law passed that would bar restaurants from selling soda in cups larger than 16 ounces. He actually believes that will cut down consumption. First of all, there aren’t too many restaurants that sell soda in glasses bigger than 16 ounces. But worse than that, most places provide refills at no charge.

Chiu either doesn’t get out a lot, he’s posturing, or his aim is to slowly chip away at the soda industry until people get battle weary and beg the government to treat those manufacturing and selling it as if they were pushing meth.

Chiu went on to say, “This is an industry that has used marketing and sales tactics to victimize low income communities, communities of color throughout our country.”

The state knows a thing or two about marketing tactics to “victimize low income communities” to attract them to addictive behavior. Back in 1984 the campaign to legalize a state lottery relied on TV advertising and billboards with the biggest billboard presence in communities such as the Del Paso Heights neighborhood in Sacramento, South Stockton, East Los Angeles and other urban neighborhoods with a high concentration of low-income households.

One of Chiu’s colleagues – Assemblyman Ron Bonta of Oakland – is seeking to ban discount coupons that he said can lead to “soda actually being cheaper than bottled water.”

Again, our elected officials need to get out more. There are many cases where convenience stores sell bottled water for more than soda or beer on an ounce-to-ounce basis.

And if Chiu is worrying about victimizing low-income people why not outlaw any bottled water from being sold for the same – or more than – the same size of soda?

Whoops, I forgot. The two-cents-per ounce tax proposed for sugary drinks will pop up the cost of soda enough to make both relatively expensive. But that begs the question — if 16 ounces of bottled water without sin tax and 16 ounces of soda with a sin tax cost the same, which one will a typical 12-year-old boy buy?

Other proposed laws would place warning labels on soda and even prohibit soda displays near checkout lines in stores.

That should give you a clue what’s next on the list of those who subscribe to the theory that Sacramento knows best. What else are at typical store checkout lines but candy and potato chips and — in most grocery stores — little toys that many kids could swallow and choke on.

If you don’t think candy and potato chips are the next targets on the Sacramento Gang of 120’s list after they get through crushing soda and sugary drinks you should get your head out of the sand.

Sacramento, if they can’t force you to do exactly what they think is best for you they will try to tax you into submission. Individual free will is not a concept that is in vogue beneath the Golden Dome.

Personally, I have real issues with a lot of things — soda, smoking, alcohol drugs in general, and much more. But if you’re not forcing your will on me to dictate what I can eat and drink and are a legal adult and aren’t hurting someone else it’s not my call what you do to your body.

It is akin to the state outlawing body piercings on the premise there are cases where health issues arise.

We should all keep in mind if we don’t stand up for whatever group frowned upon by the government that is trying to cull from the herd whether they are soda drinkers, recreational pot users, or candy consumers then we could be next.

One man’s vice is another man’s pleasure.

If we allow the power of the many wielded through government to go after those that the majority view as being worthy of punishment through sin taxes, it’s just a matter of time before they come for you.

Today it’s soda. Tomorrow it’s Starbucks.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.