Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Unintended Consequences

Politicians are fond of "sin taxes," those taxes which are intended to discourage some "bad" consumption while lining government coffers with money.   Since Democrats like taxes and they like controlling people, this is a two-fer.  The ever-liberal LA Times heralds a new study that offers "some fresh support" for sin taxes:
The study, published online by PLoS Medicine, is a meta-analysis of 32 other studies that use statistical modeling to gauge the impact of various tax and subsidy policies. Overall, it found that consumers buy less of something when the price goes up and they buy more of it when the price goes down.
This is, of course, just the Law of Supply and Demand but, to Democrats, this is new information (click for study).

Interestingly, the study found that "sin taxes" on "junk food" were ripe with unintended consequences:
Three studies in the meta-analysis attempted to make a connection between taxes and health, and their combined estimate was that a tax on dairy foods high in saturated fat would lead to an increase in death due to cardiovascular and coronary heart disease. In addition, taxes targeting junk foods in general had the unintended consequence of causing more deaths due to stroke and cardiovascular disease.

In both cases, the study authors wrote, it wasn’t that eating less saturated fat or junk food made people unhealthy; whatever they were eating instead of the taxed foods was to blame.  [Emph. added]
In the end, the LA Times was not bothered by the fact that the study on which they were reporting concluded that sin taxes can backfire.  The reporter, responded by mocking opponents of sin taxes:
Proposals to tax unhealthful foods are routinely vilified as “nanny state” initiatives that impinge on consumers’ right to eat as many Flamin’ Hot Cheetos as they’d like, and wash them down with gallons of Orange Crush.
Newspaper circulation is in decline and reporters wonder why.

PREVIOUSLY on Democrats and food
Food shortage: US now importing corn
Farmers protest against artificial drought
Women dies from eating only the purest "health foods"
herbal medicines to die for
Foodborne disease declines: NY Times blames "hard core" "conservatives"
Liberal: "In the 1970s the world will undergo famines"

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