Thursday, June 19, 2003
Sue Yourself Thin
This article at USAToday talks about coming lawsuits against fast food conglomerates.
I've wondered for years if there's not a more efficient market solution, a form of energy tax on food. Charge a tax based on the calories (or fat content or whatever) in the food. I've called it in the past, "The Fat Tax." There's probably a legitimate economic basis for such a food tax since the person making the eating decision does not bear all the costs of her/his private eating decisions. For example, if you eat fast food, develop diabetes, go on disability, and get Medicaid, then the nation is paying for your treatment for an avoidable disease. (The same argument applies for the multiple disease outcomes related to eating unhealthy foods or over-eating generally.) It might be cost effective for us to tax your food sufficiently to deter your over-consumption of foods that produce health problems. You could tweak this to be for "prepared foods" (i.e., those that can be eaten directly) rather than all foods (e.g., exempt sugar and flour because they're just raw materials for food rather than food), but it's not clear that an exemption is necessary.
We have variations of this already. For example, some states charge higher sales taxes on "junk food." But, imagine applying it on a broader scale. Certainly states might enjoy the additional source of revenue.
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