I recently saw this opinion piece from Jim Goetz, the president of the Canadian Beverage Association. He thinks that a tax on soft drinks would be a useless way to combat obesity. I suspect that the BS quota in his article is very high, but I agree with his conclusion – don’t tax the end product, soft drinks. I say instead, tax the dangerous ingredient, sugar.
His argument is that hardly any of the calories we eat come from the sugar in soft drinks and anyway, there’s doubt about whether sugar addiction is real, and besides my industry is already doing a good job in limiting the impact. So don’t tax my product.
Sound familiar? The tar sands industry claims that hardly any of the world’s CO2 emissions come from their product, and anyway, there is doubt about whether or not it’s a problem, and we are already getting more efficient. So don’t block my tar sands project or my pipeline.
My response to both problems is the same. Don’t tax the end product, tax the raw harmful ingredient. And while we are figuring out an appropriate tax rate, let’s start by eliminating subsidies on it.
Maybe without subsidies on sugar farmers would start growing less poison and grow more food. Maybe the cost of poison would increase and people would use less of it. Maybe governments could assist in this transition.
Maybe without subsidies oil sands companies would not start their next oil sands project or pipeline and instead start producing wind mills or solar collectors. Maybe the cost of fossil fuel energy would increase and people would use less of it. Maybe governments could assist in this transition.
I can dream, can’t I?