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July 19, 2012

by DailyKenn.com

Britain's Labour Party wants to tax fizzy drinks.

The initiative is an effort to affect the growing problem of obesity.

Labour's Diane Abbott is declaring
war on everyone else's fat.
The fizzy-drink tax, then, is explicitly designed to modify human behavior. It's akin to parents popping their child's rear end for misbehaving, or God sending a plague to change the mind  and manners of Pharaoh.

Technically it's a tax.

Effectively it's a penalty.

Traditionally government greed has chosen fines as the method of choice to penalize people who fail to follow the straight and narrow.

So what makes a penalty a tax?

In the fizzy-drink scenario, the penalty is applied every time anyone purchases a soda; unlike a traffic fine that is levied only when a person is caught violating the law.

Because the fine is a universally-applied penalty, it is technically a tax. At least that's the way the U.S. Supreme Court seems to interpret it.

ObamaCare's mandate is, like the fizzy drink penalty, considered a tax.

There is no arrest warrant. There is no court hearing. There is no recourse. There is no jury of peers. There is no plea bargaining.

There is only presumption of guilt.

It's like being dunned by a tax agency. You're presumed guilty.

The ObamaCare penalty is designed to punish those who fail to purchase health insurance. Because it is punitive, its purpose is to modify behavior through the intimidation and imminent pain of financial loss.

Two concerns arise:

First is the precedent. If a punitive penalty can be applied to ObamaCare (or fizzy drinks in Britain), it can be applied to any predictable behavior.

I don't expect the government to impose a TV tax for sets that log more than 10 hours per week. I can, however, imagine a excessive fuel tax on vehicles that exceed a predetermined number of gallons of gasoline purchased per month.

Second is the increase. Think of a tax that has not increased. Those who have the authority to raise taxes also have personal and philosophical agendas that require funding. Expect the ObamaCare penalty tax to increase. Expect he soda tax, if imposed, to increase.

Don't expect the Labour Party to suggest a tax credit when consumers purchase Gatorade.

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