Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The Cost of Being Fat
David Paterson is the governor of New York. He’s also become the brunt of numerous jokes on Saturday Night Live.
In Governor Paterson’s first state budget he has proposed a 2009–2010 budget that would increase spending by 1.1%, or $1.3 billion, to create a $121.1 billion spending plan.
Much of the growth is revenue from 88 new or higher fees and will hit New Yorkers in many areas, from downloading music to sipping drinks to fishing. One of the proposed hikes is a so-called “iPod tax,” which would tax the sale of downloaded music and other “digitally delivered entertainment services” by 4 percent. There also would be higher taxes on gas, taxi rides, cable and satellite TV service, cigars, beer, movie and sports tickets, and health spa visits, to name a few items.
Paterson seems to be fighting both obesity and budget deficits with a proposal for an 18% tax on soda and other sugary drinks containing less than 70% real fruit juice.
“People don’t really realize the amount of calories they’re ingesting through liquids,” said Joe Baker acting deputy secretary for Health and Human Services to the governor. “They say, ‘Oh, it’s just a drink.’”
According to state officials, almost one in four New Yorkers under age 18 are obese, and at higher risk for dangerous, expensive illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
So, am I off my rocker here? Or, is this really none of government’s business? Should they being trying to tax people into doing what’s good for them? Or, is this just another way for government to tax people without most people even paying attention to it?