Friday, May 13, 2005

Big Mac Tax is a Big Fat Mistake

We’ve already blasted Detroit’s proposed fast-food tax. But some ideas are so stupid that they deserve multiple condemnations. In today’s New York Sun, John Avlon explains why everyone is against this tax:

It is one of the most regressive taxes imaginable, disproportionately affecting poor families who too often depend on fast-food restaurants for daily meals. It also marks a new frontier in the "sin tax" effort to jack up the price on any behavior that America's intolerant New Puritans would prefer to discourage - in this case, the personal and societal cost of obesity…

You know an idea is bad when the Working Family's Party and a Libertarian leader agree on its stupidity. I asked Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Reason magazine, to weigh in on the Big Mac Tax. He characteristically did not pull any punches. "It's bad enough that eating at McDonald's is going to make you fat, zit-ridden, and smelly; now it's going to make you poorer." He then added a thoughtful twist by pointing out, "This shows the desperation, exasperation and lack of imagination in urban policy."…

[T]he Big Mac Tax proposal is a troubling sign of desperate measures that may lie ahead as other cities and states wrestle with spiraling costs associated with an aging population. All this is happening at a time when government is ill prepared to afford increased costs. In addition, such ad hoc tax increases run counter to the tax-simplification effort that the federal government appears to finally be taking seriously. Unless these underlying structural problems are addressed, regressive and ultimately self-defeating efforts such as the Big Mac Tax may be the thin edge of the wedge, no pun intended.


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