The first day of May and a new “sin tax” hits the lowest paid.
Yes, today is the first day of the sugar tax, or the soda tax or whatever you want to call it. Leastwise the powers that be are going to raid our pockets but it’s all for our own good.
Sin taxes are quite clever when you look at them. First you pick on some imaginary problem, then you convince the plebs that the problem is not only real, but is an “epidemic” or a “threat” or even a “crisis”.
Having convinced [nearly] everyone that the only way to solve this problem is to force people to pay more for it, you sit back and watch the cash roll in. Nobody will object because it is after all “for our own good”.
The fact that these taxes don’t work is paradoxically a good thing. Once the figures are in and there is a demonstrable lack of effect then you simply announce that maybe a hefty rise in the sin tax will work. More money rolls in!
You can argue that if the “problem” is so severe that it should be banned or taxed at several hundred percent, but that will defeat the whole object of the game. If you ban an item then you can’t collect taxes from it. If you levy an exorbitant tax then demand may well drop off but then so does your tax base. In fact if you do levy an exorbitant tax rate then people will simply find methods of circumventing that tax by legal or [more likely] illegal means. The trick is to start small and then build up in salami-slices, so that the 10c tax soon becomes a €1 tax or even a €10 tax – little increments means few complaints.
The first sin tax to be introduced was of course the tobacco tax. When the various powers realised that there was billions to be made out of it they moved on to obesity and alcohol. Obesity is a master stroke as so many things can be fingered as a cause. They can go for sugar, fat, or any number of foodstuffs and simply apply a tax to each one in turn. While the tobacco tax was ignored by the general public as it didn’t affect them, the obesity taxes will eventually apply to everyone. But at this stage they still won’t object because they have been thoroughly brainwashed into the thought that it’s for everyone’s good, and to be against the tax somehow means they are all for obesity or whatever.
A nice sleight of hand is to invent a monster that is trying to devour us all. With tobacco it is of course “Big Tobacco” and now we are into “Big Sugar” and “Big Alcohol”. The fact that such entities don’t exist is irrelevant: it is just sufficient that the public perceives that they exist.
We are all together in fighting that evil empire of Big and if it costs us then we welcome it. Please take my money – it’s to save the population!
So welcome to the world of the soft drink tax.
I can guarantee it is the first of many.