While a bit of today's water cooler conversation will be spent mulling over yesterday’s Super Bowl commercials, there’s another commercial—with a decidedly political message—that I wanted to discuss.
It’s a spot created by a group called Americans Against Food Taxes to counter the movement to tax sugary drinks, including sodas and sports drinks:
Americans Against Food Taxes is a consortium comprised predominantly of industry groups and businesses—i.e. Burger King, the Society of the Plastics Industry, the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, Delta Air Lines—that have huge financial stakes in the sugary drink business.
The entire spot infuriates me, but the “They want to put new taxes on a lot of groceries I buy” line may be the most clandestinely deceiving, especially for those who don’t know the details of the larger conversation.
Consider the visuals, including the actor’s shopping cart. Sorry, but no new taxes are being discussed for pineapple, peppers and beef. Any tax would be levied on the saccharine drinks that are making us sick and putting an undue burden on our health care system.
If the taxes go to offset the huge financial burdens placed on our health care system because of these drinks, I am in favor. Our always ballooning health care premiums and taxes are ridiculously high, thanks in part to soda and its kin. I’d much rather have my tax dollars fund afterschool sports programs and extended hours for the public library instead of drugs and surgical procedures needed to fight unnecessary (soda-induced) diabetes and obesity.
Two arguments against the tax are that we should be educating hard-working Americans about proper food choices—not creating more financial burdens with more taxes—and that the government should not be interfering in our personal lives.
Those arguments are, in theory, admirable, but reality proves—witness Pepsi’s Refresh Project—that most of the educating and interference is really done by the beverage companies, which are more interested in their financial health (via the continual harvesting of new generations of customers) than society’s well-being.