The Price We Pay – Is It Worth It?
Junk food has crept into the lives of the American people. There are over 160,000 fast food restaurants in the United States of America. (Static Brain, Source Pew Research Center) With that many sources for junk food and soft drinks, Americans make poor choices everyday. In hopes of creating financial stability in our economy, men and women are busy pursuing their careers. People are working longer hours than their elders did in the past. Time to fix proper meals and knowing proper portioned meals is way down the list of priorities. I believe that the fast pace Americans have adopted has forced us to rely on fast food as a substitute for regular meals and has made us unhealthy.
In certain states, new laws have been passed to tax junk food and sodas in order to prevent obesity. Many experts believe that taxes placed on soda and sugar-sweetened beverages are too low to have much impact on the amount that people consume. (, “ Taxing junk food and soda is not the way to make America healthy.”)
Back in 1773, the people of Massachusetts reacted to the English Parliament for taxing tea by dumping it over the side of the ships which were docked in Boston. These actions further raised tension that broke out resulting in the War of American Independence in 1775 . Now this may be an extreme situation for the current time, but if the government were to initiate a national tax on all junk food throughout the United States of America the government disapproval ratings would go up. In a recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive, concluded that more than half of Americans were opposed to the “fat tax”. Doctors affiliated with “fat tax” studies say the beverage industry has manipulated public opinion to oppose a tax. People do not want to pay more taxes as many are still having a hard time recovering after the 2007 recession.
Taxes are not going to help the people who are already obese in America. First people need to be personally responsible for their health and weight, as they cannot rely on restaurants and soft drink companies to do that for them. Businesses are focused on making profits, not helping people make good choices. Companies will increase your cost so that their bottom line stays the same or even in some cases even higher profits if taxes are implemented on soft drinks and junk food. Have you ever wondered why items that are listed as sugar free cost more? It is marketing, and companies are not above pitching their products to those who may not have the knowledge to make better choices. There is no way to insure that taxes collected on these unhealthy items would be used to educate and help people to make better decisions for themselves.
Lobbyists for the industry would influence political representatives resulting in voting for no tax or tax rates too small to be of any real help in promoting good health. The most common comparison drawn by supporters and those opposing the measure is to smoking, which has been taxed heavily. This measure however, has not stopped people from smoking and damaging their health. Fruit and vegetables are not a new concept; they have been around since the time humans first started to settle and stopped roaming the world. Obesity has been on the rise since the 1980’s, it is not a new problem. Looking at video clips and pictures before that time, people were fit and looked healthy. They walked, some grew their own food, got plenty of exercise and did not depend on a company to rush a bag of fried food out of a window to take home. Businesses of today who provide junk food are only supplying the products that the American people have demanded.
Taxing junk food and soda may discourage some of the consumers from eating foods that are not good for them, but in reality it hasn’t really had a effect of the people who consume the most fast food. Has taxing cigarettes eliminated the companies that produce them for the people? No, the companies are still in business, raising their prices and raising more taxes for the government which has it has not used in an effective way to lower the smoking rates. There will always be a demand by consumers who are willing to pay for things that they want – healthy or not.
The government’s record on dietary issues is problematic. Having been involved in the sugar market since the War of 1812, the government has had over two hundred years to make healthy influences on the American diet. Subsidies are paid and the price of sugar is controlled, yet easily available. Taxes collected have been used on programs that have not educated people on proper nutrition. The chance to help manage peoples’ diets has been neglected and there is still an obesity problem in America.
The government could raise substantial amounts of money from junk food tax. However, there is no way that the government can promise that the money generated would go directly to helping the American people with obesity. Under the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program, cheese is an acceptable item, yet cheese can be very high in fat. Government’ handling of taxes and programs has not always benefited people in the way it should.
Taxing may be a good way to help with obesity, but why is there not public messages or commercials to promote healthier eating to Americans? It is another reason for the government to receive money from hard-working Americans who earn their paycheck. If the government wanted to really influence and help the American people be healthier than they would do a better job and show a force to condemn obesity. Americans are living longer today than they were, due to the advance in medicine. People who are obese are not living as long as someone who is healthy, which helps with the overall cost to the government. Majority of people who have a career also have a pension or 401 K set up. A person who is obese will die earlier which will save the government and the company money.