Friday, October 8, 2010

No Food Stamps for Sodas = A Great Idea

New York City and New York State have petitioned the United States Department of Agriculture “to bar New York City’s 1.7 million recipients of food stamps from using them to buy soda or other sugared drinks,” according to a news story in yesterday’s New York Times.

The New York City and New York State health commissioners also laid out their arguments in an Op-Ed piece.

(Read both articles if you have a chance.)

I understand some feel the government too intrusive, but I think intrusive is making everyone pay taxes to subsidize the soda companies’ bottom lines and their executives’ bonuses.

I have no problem paying taxes to fund the food stamp program, but I don’t want this money buying sodas and sugared drinks. And don't think I (WE!) don't pay again
in the form of even more taxes and higher health insurance premiumssince the sicknesses caused by the sodas have to be paid for.

As Thomas Farley and Richard Daines, the two health commissioners, write, “obesity-related illnesses cost New York State residents nearly $8 billion a year in medical costs, or $770 per household. All of us pay the price through higher taxes.”

Of course, the soda industry will fight this with all its might.

Tracey Halliday, a spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association, argued in the news article, “This is just another attempt by government to tell New Yorkers what they should eat and drink.”

Ms. Halliday, it’s actually a great attempt by the government, since it’s obvious that action is needed to counter the insidious marketing by the American Beverage Association and its members in their attempt to tell New Yorkers what they should eat and drink.

1 comment:

Brian Mathias said...

It amazes me that this is even an issue. It amazes me that currently one CAN use food stamps to buy sodas so full of sugar that they should in every respect be considered candy. Why should taxpayers be subsidizing that? Please, someone explain George Hacker's "great many ethical reasons to consider why one would not want to stigmatize people on food stamps" (to which the NYT article alludes without any substantive elaboration). How would refusing to subsidize junk food for populations that exhibit disproportionately high levels of diet-related diseases stigmatize anyone except junk food manufacturers? If this somehow insults welfare recipients, should we say the same thing about NYC's initiative to bring more fresh produce into poor neighborhoods? Are they shaming local residents by putting fruit carts on street corners? And what about the food stamp ban on alcohol? Isn't that too patronizing? The only people this argument insults is taxpayers. Any voice against the proposed initiative is a smokescreen deployed by or on behalf of those sectors of the food industry that would be a little less rich if the Department of Agriculture gives it approval.