Fast-food tax would punish poor, WI economist says

CHEW ON THIS: A University of Wisconsin-La Crosse economics professor says taxing fast food will only limit choice and ultimately hurt the poor.
CHEW ON THIS: A University of Wisconsin-La Crosse economics professor says taxing fast food will only limit choice and ultimately hurt the poor.

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON – Want to hit the poor where they live? Tax fast-food restaurants, big sugary drinks and other convenience food and beverage items deemed hazardous to your health.

That’s the take of Adam Hoffer, an assistant economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Hoffer recently co-authored an op-ed on the subject of poverty and fast-food taxes for USA Today.

In the piece, headlined “Big Brother declares war on consumption,” Hoffer and fellow professors William F. Shughart II and Michael D. Thomas assert targeted taxation or bans on fatty, salty, sugary and preserved-filled foods may be designed to go after America’s epidemic obesity problem, but it’s hurting the people who can least afford such “sin taxes” the most.

“Research in the new field of ‘behavioral economics’ generally supports such policies, but what scholars often overlook is the impact taxes and regulations have on the poorest members of society,” the economists write. “The simple fact is that poverty reduces the scope of choice.”

Obesity fighters have advocated taxing fast-food establishments for several years.

Read more at WisconsinReporter.com


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Mr Lundt August 08, 2013 at 01:06 PM
Or solyndra orTom Barrets trolley boondoggle. The notion that the government spends out money wisely has long gone the way of the dodo bird. It is not the role of the government to protect us from ding dongs, Twinkies and Dr. Pepper. There is no end to how far the left will go...
jbw August 08, 2013 at 07:35 PM
Dropping $10 at MCD and then saying you can't afford $2 for a 12 serving bag of beans or couple pounds of carrots (both of which EBT will cover, unlike fast food) is ridiculous. It sounds equally ridiculous to me to say we need to take some of that fast food money and use it to "educate" people that buying cheaper healthy food at the supermarket and cooking it themselves is better for them. They are buying fast food out of taste preference and convenience, and paying a premium for it already, certainly not out of necessity. Tax on cigs also hits the poor disproportionately. Perhaps we could look into my suggestion last year of a new "sin stamps" program to supplement food stamps, so the poor can buy more tobacco, liquor, and fast food. The theft prevention alone would go a long ways toward funding it.
Lika Phipps August 09, 2013 at 12:41 AM
It's a double edged sword. The working poor need a break sometimes, and fast food is easy. But, it seems as if many of the poor who don't have enough money to spend at the grocer's, will make poor choices like highly refined foods such as generic white bread, noodles, etc, which are cheap. Because it's the cheap high calorie and high fat foods, people may become fat. In which case, they shouldn't be eating fast food anyway. Thing is, it's not that much more expensive to go to a place like the Douglas Avenue Diner and get real food.
Lika Phipps August 09, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Mr. Lundt, people with low blood sugar are now called hypoglycemic. Type 1 diabetes is when your body doesn't make ANY insulin, and Type 2 is when your natural insulin is inefficient. So, diabetics tend to have high blood sugars until they take their meds, which could put them at a low. But, considering that most diabetics are over weight, candy isn't needed.
Mr Lundt August 09, 2013 at 10:08 AM
Lika---did you see my ;)? I was playing. I was responding to poster Patti, and stated there is no conflict of interest of having Walgreens sell prescription drugs and candy bars. The larger point is that the entire motion of a sin tax is simply an government over reach to control legal behavior.


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