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Saturday, March 30, 2002
Today, beer. Tomorrow, the world
Michael Judge writes about the silliness of anti-alcohol groups in the United States.
It gets worse. The American Medical Association is calling for local ordinances against "reckless marketing practices" that target students with ads for boozy events like Barenaked Ladies concerts and spring-break packages to Boca Raton. And college boards are listening. Berkeley is just one of the many campuses where events sponsored by alcohol and tobacco companies are no-nos.

Much of this hysteria has to do with the state of perpetual alarm trumpeted by groups like Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.


The problem is that many Americans see boozing as somehow immoral and not a salutary part of social mores. Studies by the Berkeley Alcohol Research Group and a host of others find that nations that teach children moderation over abstinence, such as France, Spain and Italy, may have higher overall rates of alcohol consumption, but far lower rates of alcoholism and alcohol-related disease.
This crusade against "sin" is certainly not limited to alcohol (and tobacco), though. It's just the first step, as this article from the L.A. Times notes.
Citing California's huge budget shortfall and its growing number of overweight children, a state lawmaker is proposing a new tax on soda to fight childhood obesity.


The California Soda Tax Act by Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) is seen as the leading edge of a broader initiative to tax or levy fees on a variety of eating and drinking habits. One lawmaker, in fact, has introduced a bill to study taxing a wider range of junk food to finance health programs for children. Another may try to impose a fee on retail sales of alcoholic beverages to bolster trauma rooms.
Part of this is simply a fundraising measure, of course. But part of it is an attempt to run people's lives, spearheaded by groups like the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, which campaigns against food that people want to eat, in favor of exercise, and most importantly, in favor of government intervention. The only common thread that runs through their campaigns on behalf of public health issues is that none of them have anything to do with public health.

The larger problem, though, is that as Steven Milloy has pointed out, repeatedly, there's not much science behind the idea that obesity is increasing, let alone that it's really the serious problem activists claim it is.

Doesn't matter to activists, though:
Nonetheless, lawmakers are not stopping at soda and cigarettes as possible tax targets.

To address concerns that California students are struggling at school because they are sick, lawmakers led by Assemblywoman Wilma Chan (D-Alameda) are pushing a package of proposals to improve their health.

Chan has introduced a measure that would require the state to study the feasibility of taxing junk foods to pay for dental and health services for children.
I wonder how much we could raise if we just taxed stupid legislative proposals? That's one thing there never seems to be a shortfall of.

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