The Nanny State

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brianvds (March 25, 2018, 10:56:02 AM):
Thought it might be meaningful to start a thread for a subject that is often discussed in the shoutbox...

https://medium.com/@gidmk/soft-drinks-are-killing-you-so-why-dont-we-have-a-sugar-tax-already-60060de4aeb9

Tweefo (March 26, 2018, 07:00:10 AM):
I don't think that the tax on cigarettes had much to do with reduced smoking. More likely it was the message that's was spread in the press that did the job, and non smokers attitude. In the past, smoking in public was acceptable, nonsmokers did not like it, but they lived with it. That changed. A separate sugar's room at the restaurant is not going to work, as with smoking, I think. This is just an excuse to get more money into the state coffers.
brianvds (March 26, 2018, 08:05:07 AM):
I don't think that the tax on cigarettes had much to do with reduced smoking. More likely it was the message that's was spread in the press that did the job, and non smokers attitude. In the past, smoking in public was acceptable, nonsmokers did not like it, but they lived with it. That changed. A separate sugar's room at the restaurant is not going to work, as with smoking, I think. This is just an excuse to get more money into the state coffers.

It seems to me it can be difficult to work out whether a tax "worked." But it is a case where politicians and activists will be in great temptation to equate correlation with causation.

Me, I mostly stay away from sugar anyway...
BoogieMonster (March 26, 2018, 11:09:58 AM):
I doubt extra taxes on sugars, alcohol, etc. Do much to change the behavior of anyone over a certain income threshold. Sure, you can get 800 people out of tens of thousands to consume less sugary drinks because they could just barely afford the item in the first place. However anyone making a modicum of money is hardly bothered by the extra cents/rands added on these items.

I was in New York recently, I quote a quick google search: "The price of 1 package of Marlboro cigarettes in New York City is $14". This is almost entirely due to NYC's extremely high taxation of cigs. You know what I saw on the streets: People smoking. A lot of New Yorkers make a lot of money.

I have a question though: Do we know if "natural sugars" found in fruit juices are much better?

What grinds my ass is how Coke came out with smaller bottles in SA for the same price citing "sugar tax", but their diet and sugar-free drinks took exactly the same arch. In essence, this is an excuse for them to effectively raise the price per volume on ALL their drinks, not just the sugary ones. GGRRRRR.

----- More seriously -----

Nanny state-ism wrt health comes almost directly from socialised healthcare. You can point this out as many times as you want during a free healthcare debate: that providing such will cost people their freedoms. This always falls on deaf ears. The simple fact is the state becomes very motivated to decrease the costs of healthcare to the bare minimum and it doesn't take an Einstein to understand that they thus become very motivated to stop you from landing in a hospital in the first place. And so the nanny state-ism intensifies.

The problem here is that most people in SA have private healthcare anyway because the state healthcare is so shite. BUT, these rules count for everyone. The state's erosion of freedom in the name of cutting hospitalisation costs gets applied like a big 'ol universal thor hammer. It's basically the whole "we don't want porn packages on DSTV" thing all over again. It's not enough that some people can elect do go a certain way we must force everyone to comply.

In this moral sense I think it's far superior to educate and use propaganda to convince people to be healthier. This also works but has a side benefit of allowing everyone to do as they please, and the private corporations can compete directly without government helping/diluting their bottom lines. If the product really is unhealthy well informed public pressure should reflect that and the corporations should be purely monetarily motivated to do the right thing as a matter of course.

And lastly, and definitely not leastly: This hurts the poor more than anyone else. They have it hard enough already.

Should be clear that I have big problems with almost all of this.

Spike (March 26, 2018, 14:56:48 PM):
I have a question though: Do we know if "natural sugars" found in fruit juices are much better?
No, they are not, especially when concentrated in a commercial product.
What grinds my ass is how Coke came out with smaller bottles in SA for the same price citing "sugar tax", but their diet and sugar-free drinks took exactly the same arch. In essence, this is an excuse for them to effectively raise the price per volume on ALL their drinks, not just the sugary ones. GGRRRRR.
I was so outraged when I saw it that I skipped the Coke for 2 days.
Nanny state-ism wrt health comes almost directly from socialised healthcare. You can point this out as many times as you want during a free healthcare debate: that providing such will cost people their freedoms. This always falls on deaf ears. The simple fact is the state becomes very motivated to decrease the costs of healthcare to the bare minimum and it doesn't take an Einstein to understand that they thus become very motivated to stop you from landing in a hospital in the first place. And so the nanny state-ism intensifies.
He who foots the bill should and will take steps to discourage reckless behaviour, and considering the general lack of awareness and education in this specific target populace (receivers of national health care) it makes sense to try to curb consumption, be it by way of taxes or other measures. Any reasonable measures to lighten the burden of the national health care system should be welcomed.

The problem here is that most people in SA have private healthcare anyway because the state healthcare is so shite.
I would be interested to see your source.

In this moral sense I think it's far superior to educate and use propaganda to convince people to be healthier.
What better way to draw attention to the problem than by getting everyone to talk about a sugar tax?

If the product really is unhealthy well informed public pressure should reflect that and the corporations should be purely monetarily motivated to do the right thing as a matter of course.
The research is solid, there is no disagreement whatsoever that too much sugar causes health problems. It's as indisputable as the body of work on smoking.

And lastly, and definitely not leastly: This hurts the poor more than anyone else. They have it hard enough already.
'Hurt' in the sense that they may have to consume less sugar? When the budget does not stretch, it does not stretch, and you make other choices.

Should be clear that I have big problems with almost all of this.
I'd like to refer to your previous statement:
In this moral sense .....
...motivated to do the right thing as a matter of course
Perhaps the 'haves' should consider it their moral obligation to pay up for the general good. Could such beneficence become a slippery slope and impinge on individual freedom? Yes, but perhaps we should see it as a small sacrifice for the greater good.

Having said all this: I have absolutely no illusions that the government is doing this 'for the good of the people'. It is simply a happy coincidence that there is money to be made at a time when their tax base is shrinking and commitments growing.

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