19 February 2014

Government overreach?

It is no secret that my beverage of choice is Dr Pepper. Whereas most people state their day with a cup - or four - of coffee, I start my day with a cold Dr Pepper (it just so happens that my source of caffeine is not socially acceptable at breakfast, for reasons I will never understand).

When the state of New York opted to ban the sale of sodas larger than 16 ounces in various places (a decision which will be heard by the state's supreme court), I thought the law was foolish and another prime example of legislators claiming to know how best to the lives of those they are supposed to represent.

Such a ban has not been attempted in Illinois, but Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) has proposed a bill that would create a new tax on sodas sold in Illinois:
The new plan would add an extra penny on every ounce of sugary drinks sold in sealed containers, along with the syrups and powders used to flavor them.
The tax is part of a broader plan to promote healthy living in Illinois, according to state Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, who sponsored the legislation. Revenue from the tax would go toward a range of health services and education initiatives.
Let's presume I would drink one 16-once bottle of Dr Pepper each day. That would put another $58.40 in the state's coffers to be used as well as they use the other "revenues" (a new euphemism for taxes and fees) are presently used.  In a typical day, I might actually drink two 16-once bottles of Dr Pepper each day, which would put another $116.80 each year to the state that is already more than $154 billion in debt and has the worst credit rating in the union.

Finding Dr Pepper here in Rome is no easy task and the one store that sells it does not have it consistently on the shelves.  Consequently, I have taken to buying it online.

Instead of paying this additional tax, I would simply buy Dr Pepper online or even travel to Missouri or Indiana - where I would not have to pay this tax - and stock up on Dr Pepper when I visit friends in those states.  Not only would Illinois not receive this new tax, it would also lose the normal sales tax it had received.  The sales tax in the city of Springfield is higher than other cities in Illinois.  If there was a larger item I wanted to buy, rather than buy it in Springfield I often waited until I visited friends in Quincy or Effingham or some other city and bought it there where the tax was less.  I know I am not alone in doing this.  This will not help the state's debt, credit rating, or my health.

With good reason, the proposed tax has been criticized by the Illinois Coalition Against Beverage Taxes:
"You reduce consumption, and you reduce employment," said Brian Rainville, a spokesman for Teamsters Joint Council 25 in Chicago and northwest Indiana. "If there's less being made and distributed, there's fewer people doing those jobs.
"Politicians are always talking about creating middle-class jobs, and these are those jobs. These are the good, middle-class jobs that people want to create."
That's just common sense.

There are presently more people moving out of Illinois than out of any other state in the union.  Given this, and the state's dismal economy, you'd think the legislators would have more important issues with which to concern themselves than the size of a soda.  With proposals like this, and others much worse, it's a wonder anyone remains in Illinois.

I don't drink coffee, sports drinks, energy drinks, or alcohol.  When my arthritis cooperates, I exercise.  Please, leave my soda alone.

If the legislators are so concerned about the health of their citizens, why do we not see plans to make our cities more walkable and walker-friendly by mixing stores in residential zones?  Another help would the creation of sidewalks.  As one example, in Springfield, along Veteran's Parkway, there are no sidewalks running the length the road even though most of the shopping centers and stores in the city are on that road.  Why?  This isn't an occurrence in our cities, towns, and villages.  Even if you wanted to walk and get exercise as you went about your shopping, it would be difficult and a bit dangerous (I should know; I did it once).

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