Government policy in Seattle, Washington, is being driven by an outright socialist on the city council. The mayor, apparently starving for attention, proposed a goofy new sin tax last year.
Now, writes Reason’s Baylen Linnekin, “Seattle lawmakers are expected to vote early next week on a citywide soda tax that would add more than $2.50 to the cost of a twelve-pack of soda.”
The tax’s proponents’ rationale is too familiar: sugary sodas are bad for us, so we must be discouraged from drinking them.
Besides, politicians want to spend our money.
The problem, of course, is that the more successful they are at the first task, discouraging the ‘sin’ itself, the less revenue for them to throw at voters to prove their ‘caring’ nature . . . and buy votes.
But it is not as if those are the only competing factors involved. “The tax would undoubtedly drive consumers,” writes Linnekin, “to buy more groceries in the city’s suburbs.” Bellevue and Kirkland are nice towns. And nearby.
Arguing for a tax like this — as a social engineering mechanism — is not only crude, but flies in the face of the very best wisdom, that of Jean-Baptiste Say:
A tax can never be favorable to the public welfare, except by the good use that is made of its proceeds.
But elitist nannyism corrupts politicians, who make it their job to steer our consumption.* And they tend to be resistant to the “best scheme of finance,” which is, as J.-B. Say put it, “to spend as little as possible; and the best tax is always the lightest.”
If the tax goes in, Seattleites, drive to out-of-town Costco or Walmart.
Then drive your greedy nannies out of office.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
* Considering the mayor’s push to include diet sodas in the sin tax, how competent at this are they? It’s the sugary drinks that are known killers, but the diet drinks are mainly imbibed by wealthier folks. The mayor wants to appease the socialist on the council, and pointedly not favor the “privileged.”