Tax pizza and soda?
You have to be kidding


I’ve got all sorts of questions about this news that cities are planning to tax soda and pizza. And most of them begin in a simple place… where does it end?

First, let’s start with a two-part general idea about the tax itself…

Part one… This is nothing too new for towns, cities, and states. Ever travel? Ever seen something like a travel and tourism tax on your hotel bill?

Part two… Who here says smoking is good for you? Ok… this isn’t purely about smoking. But the idea works. See… no one is going to tell you that smoking is good for you. We all agree that smoking has health risks and creates problems not only for the smoker, but for those nearby.

What I am getting at is a misconception about this new tax idea… that it’s a good thing.

When places tax “tourism” they give they impression that they are taxing “tourists”… people from out of town… not locals. So there becomes an almost automatic support base because… if you will… we’re not paying the tax, outsiders are. And that carries over to the smoking thing. If people don’t like it… don’t smoke… it’ll be good for you and good for everyone else.

It’s not quite that simple.

We get to this pizza and soda tax. And a portion of the story is health benefits. We’re going to tax pizza… and less people will buy pizza… so people will be eating healthier. Everyone wins!

Eat unhealthy… pay more… the only losers are unhealthy, pizza-eating smokers. (And who cares about them?)


Did you see the news about chemicals in food being linked to health concerns? Stunning news (sarcasm intended)… it may not be all about the foods you eat, but also about the chemicals involved in the food you are eating.

Now I’m not going to go out there and tell you fast food is good for you, so run out and change over from fresh fruits and vegetables as the focus of breakfast and lunch to burgers and fries two meals a day. Instead… according to this article it’s certainly possible that apple sauce… 2% milk… and all sorts of other things aren’t just bad for you, they’re very bad for you, and you might even want to consider just eating the darn cheeseburger.

Let’s take this a step further.

Who is it deciding that pizza is bad for you? And I ask because aren’t we then closing in on an 18% tax on cookies? And if so, then aren’t we getting ready for special taxes at bakeries and bars and… well… this goes on and on and grows until anything that isn’t essential becomes taxed. Because non-essentials are luxuries… and luxuries belong not to us, but them… the pizza-eating smokers.

Yup… forget that healthy for you approach, and look more closely at taxing those outsiders.

This isn’t about taxing soda and pizza because it’s bad for you. And if you think it is, you’re wearing blinders. This is about looking for money, and taxing soda and pizza has a way of presenting it as necessary and worthwhile.

In a way, this is a classic not-in-my-backyard concept. As long as I don’t eat pizza, I could care less if you tax it. Won’t matter to me. Follow the idea… tax local hotel rooms all you want, I live in my home and don’t use local hotels… if I don’t smoke, I don’t care how much it costs… and so on.

Keep going though. Because your town’s budgets have problems in 2011 as well folks.

If taxing pizza and soda raises money this year… what happens next year when the budget numbers aren’t adding up? Stands to reason that people will look for other things to tax. Strip clubs… restaurants serving fried foods… pick anything you want that can be painted with a brush as a vice or a health risk or in some way being bad or an activity of the minority.

The biggest problem I have with it is that it’s all action and no reaction in thought. The article I’m linking to just mentions the basics. But it was the third or fourth article I had seen on it, so I finally started writing. It’s a ready… fire… aim approach that makes zero sense.

Don’t believe me? Watch…


Was it about a decade ago that everyone was all over the drink more water campaign? Something like that.

It seemed so logical. Dump the sugared up, so-called fruit juices and calorie-loaded carbonated beverages. Drink the zero-calorie good stuff.

And then we were drinking too much water.

And then some of the sources of water were tainted because of all the run off of waste from drugs and such. (Turns out that punch line about “must be something in the water” was more accurate than anyone could have imagined.)

And then the plastic bottles were bad for the environment.

And then some states added water bottles to their deposit programs.

The debate on water… in one form or another… goes on.

Tax pizza and soda? I laugh at the notion.

I laugh because this is a beginning… not an answer.

I laugh because there is no investigation of consequences.

I laugh because it seems so poorly thought out and outrageous.

(And I cry because so many will think it’s a great idea.)

All I can say is this… five, ten, fifteen years from now… don’t come crying to me when all the local bakeries are out of business. You asked for it.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at