In a piece in the weekend USA Today, people in the pro-soda lobby named the needs of low-income people as one of the reasons not to pass a sugary drinks tax in Seattle. The story quotes “other critics” as saying that a soda tax “would hit low-income consumers the most.”
Well, duh. Sugary drinks are cheap, and when you don’t have a lot of money you will drink them. Decisions on what to eat are driven by how much money one has to work with. The United (?) States of America today uses the least effective and humane method of helping people eat: we don’t have any real income maintenance program; when people then pop up by the millions in obvious need, we pass out turkeys, expired can goods and sandwiches to a few of them and then pat ourselves on the back. The “non-profits” get tax breaks for passing out these things, by the way.
Given this absurd approach to food and poverty policy, are we to believe that the pro-soda, pro-diabetes, pro-obesity lobby has the nutritional and other needs of poor people at heart? Hardly. If the anti-soda tax people cared about low income Americans, they would lobby the federal government for a doubling of the monthly Food Stamp/SNAP allotment, which is not even $5 per person daily. Or they’d ask their state legislature in Washington to examine why their state welfare program enrolls fewer than 30% of Washington’s eligible families.
Welfare administrators for Washington state cut nearly 12,000 people from their paltry monthly welfare benefits in a recent fiscal year. Welfare administrators simply have a lot of incentive to cut off recipients, since the amount of federal welfare money they get is not tied to how many people they serve.
If the pro-sugary drinks lobby cared a whit about low income people in Seattle, they’d join up with Basic Income Seattle to expose the broken welfare system and lobby for a Universal Basic Income for all Americans.
Thankfully, the sugary drinks tax in Seattle went through, and the tax will begin on New Year’s Day. The vocal big corporate effort to keep the sugary poisons nice and cheap so that it can keep ruining the health of low income Americans is bull-doo.