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Food and drink not the place to tax

There aren’t many things that make me happier than the sound of a Diet Coke can clicking open.
Or Diet Mountain Dew, Diet Sunkist or Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi.
The truth is I love diet soda. The feel of that cool carbonation trickling down my throat paired with its cheap caffeine thrill make me way happier than any kid has ever been in any candy store.
So recent conversation among politicians about taxing soda is just about enough to make me want to litter Capitol Hill with two liters.
Although Congress hasn’t put anything into legislation, discussion of the tax has escalated, peaking with Obama sharing his support for it in this month’s issue of Men’s Health magazine.
And it’s not just soda our politicians are pinning– it’s all sugar-sweetened beverages. And while my beloved diet soda is of debate for inclusion due to the delightful fact it has zero calories, fruit drinks from concentrate and any other liquid known to provide a sugar-buzz are on the list as definites.
Politicians say the goal of the effort would be to decrease obesity, but they’re also admitting it’d help gather more money for the proposed health care plan and our country’s deficit.
Now, I didn’t vote for Ron Paul, but the reasonings behind this proposal have me screaming ‘Not in my backyard.’
If our government was concerned about obesity, it could build gyms and playgrounds. This would put people to work. Lack of jobs is surely a bigger concern in America than my stomach being bloated right now from four Diet Code Red Mountain Dews.
The only thing taxing guilty pleasures will do is tick people off.
A recent survey conducted by ABC shows that while most doctors support the tax, most citizens are against it.
And that’s because diet is not a part of the American life that should be governmentally-regulated.
The whole point of a free country is the ability to choose. There isn’t a single choice we make more often than what to fuel our bodies with.
And even if the tax were to go through, there is already evidence to show it would not provide health-related        benefits.
Arkansas and West Virginia are the only states that currently tax soda, however, according to the Center for Disease Control, these are two of the states with the highest obesity rates.
Also, across the country, the sale of regular sodas has decreased 9.6 percent since 2000, according to the American Beverage Association.
Cutting liquid calories is one of the easiest ways for an individual to diet, which further shows that while this proposal says it stands to help our health, it’s really only to help our health care plan.
“If your goal is to reduce obesity, this won’t work, because most people won’t stop drinking soda,” said Richard Williams, managing director of the regulatory studies program and government accountability project at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University to ABC.
“You can’t change people’s taste buds,” he said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily true that the poor haven’t heard that water’s cheaper than soda.”
Any soda drinkers are pretty committed. I’m confident my ability to down a 12-pack quicker than any fraternity guy can shotgun 12 beers isn’t going to take a backseat anytime soon.
So sure, American government, if we’re taxing out of desperation these days, please continue with the tax. I’m sure it will provide a ton of money, from my own pockets if nowhere else.
But be honest about it. Don’t say you’re taxing for our own betterment. Don’t try to convince me you’re doing this for my own good. There is nothing good about my caffeine levels being low.
Emily Regenold is a senior journalism major from Cincinnati. She is the Scout managing editor.
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