Food Taxes Unhealthy for Impoverished Americans

130328_FoodPoliceBadge picAccording to a USA Today opinion piece penned by professors of economics, clinical assistant, and public health, not only do food taxes not work, but they hurt the poorest Americans. The authors cite a recent study by Dr. Hallum Hurt of the University of Pennsylvania which suggests that poverty has a more damaging effect on development than even drug use.

While proponents of a food tax are able to hop on their Vespas and scooter on over to the nearest organic-local-vegan-friendly grocery store — assuming they’re just too lazy to become dumpster-diving “freegans” — to prepare $30 in stuffed peppers, the majority of Americans simply can’t afford that. They would just be forced to stomach the more expensive food prices or simply go without. USA Today sums it up here:

The simple fact is that poverty reduces the scope of choice. If an added tax drives up the cost of a Big Mac, it doesn’t necessarily make economic sense for someone on a limited budget to spend the time and money to travel to the nearest “organic” grocery store and then prepare a meal at home. Many will pay the penalty for their dietary choice because it’s still the most viable option available. They’ll have to spend more to buy the same unhealthy meal. The only one benefiting is the tax collector.

Not only does behavioral data agree with us, but economists do as well. We have said it time and time again that food taxes don’t work, but the food police don’t care. They even acknowledge that their food tax is “technically” regressive yet still choose purported fitness over fullness for impoverished Americans. When will the nannies learn?

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