Taxing Bad Foods is Good for People

A small “health tax” would make a huge difference.

Originally published 2004

The TreeLight Health pages contain a ton of articles about health and the destructive effects that some of the ingredients in the American food supply have on it. I’ve started up a correspondence with several knowledgeable folks as a result of those articles, one of whom is Charles Weber, who knows a heck of a lot about the role of minerals in human health.

In a recent exchange, Charles shared this interesting idea:

“I would like to see Medicare and Medicaid completely funded by a tax on
 any food that has had essential nutrients removed or poisons added.”

It’s a great idea. After, we tax tobacco and alcohol — partly to offset the damage they do, and partly because they’re “luxuries” that people can live without so (in theory) the tax only affects discretionary spending. 

Such a tax would have several major benefits:

  • It would provide badly needed funding for Medicare and Medicaid.
  • It would help to offset the harmful health effects of food processing and harmful additives.
  • It puts the  the burden of cost where it belongs, on those responsible for the health problems they cause. In other words, it is simple corporate justice.  
  • It would give food producers extra incentive to use healthy ingredients. (So they might choose to use butter instead of partially hydrogenated oil, which is less expensive but much more harmful.)
  • It would give consumers extra incentive to purchase healthy foods, because they’re less expensive.

The tax could be applied to fast food restaurants, as well. After all, the things they serve are loaded with harmful ingredients. The revenue from that source alone would go a long way towards dealing with America’s health problems — especially the ones we face in the coming decades as the childhood obesity that’s characteristic of a nation raised on fast foods turns into adult diseases (diseases that are showing up earlier and earlier these days, according to medical reports).

Of course, both food producers and the fast food industry would object to this tax. Those are two powerful, very well funded organizations that would mount a strenuous counter-offensive. But the science is in. The results are conclusive. Their food-like products are responsible for obesity and human suffering.

The first lawsuit has been brought against McDonald’s for causing obesity and serious health problems. It’s originator even points out that, after a month of living on McDonald’s food, he got fat, as expected. Was unexpected, though, was the liver and kidney problems he developed. Even more unexpected was the fact that he became addicted to those foods, to the point that it became difficult-to-impossible to return to a healthy diet. Of course, that lawsuit was a favorite topic for late-night talk show jokes. But they laughed at the first tobacco lawsuit, too. The jury is still out.

The bottom line is that such a tax would be very good for the American people, who should be in favor of it. On the other hand, it’s not so good for giant food producers, who will undoubtedly oppose it. The question, really, is whether it is corporations or people who are in charge of the American government. (The goal of a Voting Advice System is to make sure that it is we, the people.)

For further thoughts on this subject, see, Taxing Bad Foods is Good for the Environment.

Copyright © 2004-2017, TreeLight PenWorks

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    1. Taxing Bad Foods is Good for the Environment | May 16, 2017 (9:33 pm)

      […] Taxing Bad Foods is Good for People, I mentioned the beneficial impact of a tax on foods that have had nutrients removed or harmful […]

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