|Photo: Asbjørn Kristensen Høgsbro|
Some would say you can’t tax people into good health, but an unfazed Denmark tried to set a Utopian example for the rest of the world last year when they began taxing fatty junk foods and chocolate … also called the fat-sugar tax.
To the Danish, it seemed like a win-win for all. It would deter obesity-prone people from overindulging, and would further line the country’s coffers if citizens lacked restraint.
Maybe it would lighten the healthcare burdens. And while many consumers cried “unfair”, everyone expected it to work. It was only a slight discomfort for the greater good, after all. Not an outright form of abuse, right?
After one experimental year, it turned out to be an economic backfire largely unheard ’round the world. Consumer disapproval ensued and, according to Raw Story, the measure did nothing to change eating habits. Additionally,
The fat tax and the extension of the chocolate tax — the so-called sugar tax — has been criticised for increasing prices for consumers, increasing companies’ administrative costs and putting Danish jobs at risk, the Danish tax ministry said in a statement.
The mandate caused consumers to take their money elsewhere — across the border to purchase their favorite foods. “The Danish Food Workers Union told Food Navigator recently that the measure had led to a loss of 1,300 retail and manufacturing jobs there.” (Source)
So, Denmark’s government is cancelling the fat tax and will not introduce taxes on chocolate either. Some food chains will drop prices accordingly, most likely to aid in recovery and regain patrons.
The British Medical Journal actually concluded that prices on targeted foods would have to rise by 20% in order to be uncomfortable enough to cut consumption enough to affect obesity rates. And they suggested that the move would need to be coupled with government subsidies on fruit and vegetable produce in order to easily replace unhealthy cheap options with healthier eating.
Hey, there’s a thought.
While cigarette smoking has dropped off — yeah, prices rose about 50% in the last 10 years — plenty of people still need their fix and pay dearly for it. Time will tell if New York’s soda measures, as well as other countries’ experiments, will benefit — but the Danish fiasco should cause officials to pause and rethink the approach.
Another problem with letting health be dictated by bureaucracy is that they are far removed from each individual’s needs and desires, so they are generally ignorant by design. Many are starting to realize that the war on all fat was a farce and that the complete lack thereof damages health. How can it be said that differing amounts of pizza and butter will make all people equally obese? More dieticians and health experts are actually embracing natural fats as a necessary part of a whole foods regimen.
It doesn’t appear that public health consciousness is at the forefront of government initiatives; otherwise:
- Drugs supposedly tested for safety wouldn’t be approved by the FDA and then upheld after injuring millions and killing tens of thousands each year.
- FDA would not conduct raids on small raw milk farmers, and create made-up health scares with the CDC.
- Food activists wouldn’t be arrested.
- Millions wouldn’t have been spent to introduce GMOs without safety testing and then to spend more millions to halt labeling for consumer awareness.
- Health workers and parents could decide with their conscience to vaccinate or not.
- People could grow community or yard gardens without bureaucratic molestation.
- Food pyramids/plates costing us about $2 million each round would actually show real nutrition instead of USDA-favored crops most subsidized by the government.
- Drinking water wouldn’t be fluoridated…and that poisonous list goes on and on.
And, of course, the old-time “conventional” medical community was largely in support (thanks to corporate backing) of the addictive substances now believed to harm us. Just as it is now with Big Pharma Warbucks.
In dystopian novels like 1984, the quality drops in consumer products, prices and taxes inflate, and rationing is mandated. You probably remember it symbolized with Victory Gin and Victory Chocolate, as though the Proles had some freedom of choice. And they scrambled for the overpriced swill (while the elites enjoyed the good stuff), and those caught with black market “luxuries” were arrested and re-educated to believe they weren’t worth it. Nearly the same thing happened to Russians living during the Bolshevik takeover and onto the creation of the Soviet Union.
So why after government-run agencies and corporate interests spent years getting people addicted and fat on garbage, calling it nutritious, would they all support taxing people into oblivion for those very same things? Is it really just about exploiting the consumer for money? Being the boss of what’s good for you? Is it a symbolically bigger picture of herding people like fattened cattle?
Why after the induced addictions would world governments want to suddenly ween the masses off the choice of their little creature comforts?
Please leave your thoughts below.
Read other articles by Heather Callaghan Here