August 14, 2022

Would a Fat Tax Do Anything?

Dollars seamless background.

The great state of New York has a problem.  Like most other liberal states with a high number of metropolitan areas, when times were good they decided to create all sorts of programs and have all sorts of benefits, not planning for the bad times1. So the governor and the legislature are trying to come up with options.

The Fat Tax

One such option would be the creation of a fat tax on sugary items—such as sodas.  The idea goes something like this:

  • Part of the short fall is in Medicaid—which is funded by the state.
  • If we tax something related to health, then we can claim to direct the money to it.
  • How do we sell charging people more for something?  We’ll say that we’re just passing on the cost of obesity to the people.  They want to get fat, they’ll pay for the care.

There are many problems with this, of course.


No person in a nation as rich as our should go without basic health care.  That being said, we allow for all sorts of bad things with our programs.  Often, we grant money that is used to purchase less that healthful foodstuffs, and since Medicaid treats those that are uninsured, we find ourselves paying for this.

However, we don’t hear anyone calling for more regulation of what we can spend food stamp dollars on.  We don’t hear of having charities or not-for-profits work with people that get aid to either find some kind of catastrophic insurance or to make good food choices.

How’s that Tobacco Tax Working Out For You?

Most states have a tax on Tobacco.  So how much of that money is directed at fighting tobacco related health costs?  How much of it is directed at the general fund?

Government is very bad at using money for the purpose for which it was originally intended.  This is easily understood when you figure that government makes the rules, and can change the rules at will.

There’s little fear of the people, because there are plenty of people on the state’s rolls that can come to vote with their hands out for more.  So, government has little accountability when it comes to this area.

The People Taxed Are Not the People Benefiting

Simply put, those that will be able to afford to buy the sugary treats under this plan will not be the people that will see the benefit.  They will be forking over their money to people that have made poor choices or find themselves in bad circumstances.

While my heart goes out to those less fortunate, there should be a way to lift those people up without pulling others down.

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  1. It seems they didn’t learn the lesson of Joseph and Pharaoh—saving during the good times to have during the lean times. []

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