Just say no to the sugar tax

Whatever the actual merits of a sugar tax (none, but that’s by the by) the caving in to the fanatics has just made future public policy worse.

72 thoughts on “Just say no to the sugar tax”

  1. We crossed that line a long time ago. Politicians pandering to public desires of the moment is an established thing.

    The first time I remember seeing it was the handgun ban after Dunblane – with the tragedy in everyone’s minds, it was not the best time for rational debate on such a big change to the law, but it made them look good in the papers…

  2. Geoff, not so much crossed as stranded in the middle without so much as a paddle to get us back again.

  3. “We think you’re so helpless you should be told what to eat, and what to feed your children. Vote for us!”

    Ridiculous.

  4. Another perspective: it’s a trick.

    Osborne needs a tabloid thing. A bone for the middle class bansturbators. Something to make it look like the government is doing something.

    Read the subtext of his speech. The industry are already reducing sugar. So, let’s imagine something: Osborne has had a few chats with the industry. Asked them about anticipated natural reduction. They tell him where they’ll be. The law gets crafted based on that. And in 2years, it gets delivered. They pay no tax and they and Osborne get a PR win. ‘Yes, we got no sugar tax, but that’s because of our actions’.

    It’s just like the porn sign up which was what the big ISPs wanted in the first place to offer a service/block torrents.

    Meanwhile, no one notices that he raised insurance premium tax.

  5. Reading comments on Australian reporting of this was especially depressing. Despite living in the undisputed capital of the nanny state world, all people were doing was bemoaning the government here for being so ‘slow on the uptake’ of obviously excellent ideas like this one.

  6. Think of it as the jizya of the Proggie sharia. Dhimmitude was an early implementation of “nudge” theory.

  7. The Grinning Skull would crawl up a snake’s arse if he thought there might be something in it for him.

    Ausburke is not only a moron but is a moron with ambition and (with the help of his bum chum Phig-Fooke) dreams of BluLabour “leadership”. A lot of noisy left-pukes want sugar taxing? Might curry some favour with the media-slime and middle-class-Marxists? If you have no principle in life save psychopathic self-interest and you can’t even spell “precedent”–why not? Gotta to be worth a try. After all stealing ZaNu’s mini-mum wage shit was one of his greatest hits. With every thoughtless clown in the media and the UK in general..

    The real trouble is the number of thoughtless clowns. Life will winnow them sooner or later. When it becomes economic so to speak.

  8. As an aside, Ritchie tweeted immediately it was announced that this was a dreadful, regressive attack on the poor. Then Jeremy stood up to say he supported it. Ritchie has gone quiet; I’m not expecting him to express a strong opinion on the subject ever again.

  9. Just to throw some figures into the mix, this year the government will borrown £55bn. It will then pay out £39bn in interest payments on the National Debt. The remainder will mostly be consumed by the Foreign Aid Slush Fund. It’s mad.

  10. How can taxing a corporation be an attack on the poor? Has Ritchie had a Damascene realisation that companies don’t pay taxes, customers do?

    What does this mean for the rest of his tax enthusiasms?

  11. “Pure fruit juices and milk-based drinks will be excluded,”

    For now.

    However, the arms race of lunacy that is Public Health already has a small but growing group of fanatics who consider fruit juice to be evil, toxic. As policy is now decided on the template of the Sslem Witch Trials (but in the national media) their position will soon be one respectable and soon after mainstream.

    Today’s “that’s crazy! They’ll never do that!” idea is tomorrow’s policy. People can be conditioned to believe anything

  12. Rob, this is why I keep going on about how Progressivism is predicated on the manipulation of the moral sense. The greatest power goes to those who can control the perceptions/definitions of Good and Evil. And the Proggies are very, very good at that indeed.

  13. In better news, the Welsh Assembly voted against banning e-cigarettes by 27 votes to 26. Although it was only defeated due to some internal Welsh politics (which I can’t be bothered decoding), rather than any principles of individual liberty and/or scientific reason.

  14. Julia, it’s not the thin end of the wedge, we’re way closer to the chunky bit and it’s our fault for being persuaded that bigger government is better for us. What is most depressing is that the younger generation believes this.

  15. Intractable Potsherd

    We probably have various “first time I noticed this” stories, but for me it was mandatory seatbelt and motorcycle helmet legislation. Anyone without a seatbelt/helmet on risks no-one else but themselves in the event of an accident. Yes, it makes a lot of sense to wear them, but it should not have been made compulsory. Ensuring that manufacturers fitted them was also a good idea. However, freedom to make decisions that affect only one’s own health took a serious knock from that time onward, and I cannot shake the feeling that its easy acceptance fuelled the establishment’s contempt for informed decision-making by individuals.

    However, back on topic – this was on the cards for some time, because tobacco revenue is reducing, and they need it back from somewhere. A couple of years after it has been introduced the stated aim to put the money towards school sports will be lost, and the tax rate will go up. They don’t need no steenkin’ evidence – it is way of getting more money on the sly whilst moralising, something current governments love.

  16. Murphy opposed a tax??!! Was he low on sugar or something?

    He opposed it as ‘regressive’. This is someone who favours eye-watering consumption taxes. This is someone who demands the very poorest pay income tax. This is someone who doesn’t have double standards, but standards on an exponential scale.

  17. The only silver lining is that it appears public health leaches and charities like CRUK won’t be getting the money (for now).

    I expect there will be lots of back room manoeuvring in the next year or so to start funnelling that cash to them.

  18. @ potsherd.

    I don’t quite agree on the seatbelt thing there. The legislation making them mandatory makes sense from many perspectives.
    Especially when it comes to low-speed dings they save on a lot of injuries.

    And as for decisions “to one’s own health”.. I’ve had to suffer through three cracked ribs and some nasty burns and cuts from the seatbelt because the fucktard on the back seat didn’t think it was necessary to wear his..
    Even at 10 mph having 70-odd kg’s trying to exit the car through the passenger seat where you are in is no joke.

    Seat belts make sense.. Taxing an ingredient in just *one* type of product? Insane.. Especially given that that ingredient is used pretty much in everything else people tend to consume.
    Most of the cheap food, and quite oten the not-so-cheap-food is loaded with sugar. But I hear nothing about something obvious like, for instance, pasta sauce, or processed meats/snacks, or candy bars, or….

    Gah.. the mind boggles…

  19. Grikath you beat me to the reason for seat belts. You could possible argue that it is your choice if no one else is in the car but that makes the law more complicated. Helmet laws are less clear cut thanks to the reduced visibility argument.

  20. Intractable Potsherd,

    Ralph Nader won the argument on seatbelts by pointing out that liberals were fighting for the right to die in a car accident. If your principles can be defeated by common sense, it’s time to revisit your principles.

  21. Sky News report that the “smallest producers are to be shielded from the measures”; Apparently, fizzy syrup made by one-man producers is harmless, whereas the same stuff made by multi-nationals is a deadly threat to our children. Similar to the logic that plastic carrier bags from the corner shop are OK, but identical bags from Tesco portend the end of humanity.

  22. Re-seat belts or helmets, if only things were so simple.

    The only inconvenient fact is that there is such a thing as risk compensation: if you are or feel more protected, you will take more risks. Hence seat belts just made people outside the car more at risk.

    The fact is that no one stops you from wearing seat belts or helmets or whatever makes you feel special. By the same token, no one should force you to wear one.

    Typical “I’m all for freedom, but”.

  23. Oh, and Ralph Nader, really?

    If you have to invoke that twat, maybe it’s time to revisit your arguments.

  24. “The only inconvenient fact is that there is such a thing as risk compensation: if you are or feel more protected, you will take more risks. Hence seat belts just made people outside the car more at risk.”

    Yep – risk compensation and risk transfer. car drivers feel safer, so drive faster and more aggressively. Bad news for pedestrians and cyclists.

  25. “Common sense” is sometimes just a fallacy which most of the population shares.

    Often it is common sense, of course.

  26. Monoi, when that twat can easily poke a hole in the argument the argument is flawed.

    Not that I agree with most things he says but hey, even Murphaloon isn’t always wrong. Just 99.9% of the time.

  27. LY, how exactly does that twat poke a hole in my argument?

    If I don’t say white, it doesn’t mean I say black. Which is basically what the twat says, in his simple, lefty binary world.

    I’m arguing for the right to decide what level of risk is acceptable to me, and I adjust my behaviour accordingly.

    As I pointed out, his argument is flawed on top of that because what he really says is that it is acceptable for the risk to be shifted into others, ie the ones outside. Fact. The usual “what you see vs what you don’t see” argument made 180 years ago.

    As I said, wear all the protective apparatus you want, I could not care less and I certainly won’t stop you or interfere. The least I expect is not to be interfered with.

  28. Potsherd

    Anyone without a seatbelt/helmet on risks no-one else but themselves in the event of an accident.

    Wrong! In the UK, ‘socialised’ health care means the taxpayers pick up the tab for your injuries.

  29. Rubicon… thin end of the wedge…even dhimmitude….Methinks there is some over-reaction here, because a few pence on sugar-rich soft drinks is not a diminution of liberty.

  30. Theo

    I wondered when you’d be along to explain to us why there’s nothing to see here, thank God your favoured party won the GE and saved us all from socialism eh ?

  31. Monoi in a car if you are the only occupant then you aren’t a risk to anyone but yourself. If your lifelong goal is to win a Darwin Award more power to you. If anyone else is in the car and you don’t wear a seat belt you are a threat to their safety. Once it was proven that seat belts do save lives then it is a simple liability issue. If you use a belted passenger as your personal airbag, killing them in the process, how do you prove you had their permission to put them in that situation.

    Do we have any automobile insurance industry experts here that could explain the line of thought that leads to seat belt laws better?

  32. Monoi,

    > If you have to invoke that twat

    Classic ad hominem argument.

    Monoi, Rob,

    > there is such a thing as risk compensation: if you are or feel more protected, you will take more risks. Hence seat belts just made people outside the car more at risk.

    Nope. From a random study I found in about three seconds on Google: http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/olin_center/papers/pdf/341.pdf
    “Testing the compensating behavior theory, which suggests that seat belt use also has an adverse effect on fatalities by encouraging careless driving, we find that this theory is not supported by the data.”

  33. It’s the same argument as the Remainders – we’re too stupid to pass our own laws sensibly, we need a benign foreign overlord to force us to. Eat your veg and do as you’re told, dammit!

  34. Thorny

    I fail to see how putting a few pence on sugar-rich drinks is socialist. Perhaps you could explain. Is it any more or less socialist to tax booze or fags or insurance policies?

    Sugar consumption is a factor in a wide range of diseases. If you have a socialist health care system, governments have a strong motivation to save money by preventing (rather than treating) disease by taxing those things that contribute to disease.

  35. As we see here, the difference between the left and right is quibbling over specifically which way to interfere in other peoples’ lives. It’s always “just a few pence” and “nothing to make a fuss about” and “what you do affects me so I have the right to rule you” and “claiming this will set a precedent is scaremongering” and on it goes.

    It was just a few pence on tobacco once, you know.

    The sad fact is that in Anglo countries at least, a conservative is just a behind the times progressive. Give it a generation and conservatives will be condemning other countries for being transphobic.

    By the way, historically attempts to limit unhealthy sins like drinking, smoking etc precede socialist welfare policies, rather than being a “necessary” consequence. An obvious example is the USA, which has no NHS but is the world leader in nannyism, most obviously with alchohol Prohibition. “We all have to pay for self-inflicted unhealthfulness and non-wellbeingism” is just the latest justification.

  36. Theophrastus, we have to remember that it is inevitable that some bright politician will take up the cause to ban dihydrogen monoxide. Sugar itself is not extremely dangerous. As I really don’t drink fizzy sugar drinks this doesn’t affect me. I will speak against it though so someone is left to speak for me. I won’t shed a tear if it passes though.

  37. What would be amusing if it weren’t so sad is that we’re already at the stage of people calling sugar “white poison” and proclaiming that they’ve weaned themselves off this “addiction”. Just like dear old tobacco.

  38. By the way, Pubic Health England’s latest “healthy eating guidelines” allow us under 2 1/2 ounces of meat per day, and a generous two cups of tea, and one of coffee. One of their menu plans suggests an evening meal consisting of a tuna baguette.

    They aren’t going to stop you know.

  39. Andrew

    Are you denying the existence of risk compensation and risk transfer per se, or only in the specific case of car seat belts?

  40. @Liberal Yank

    ‘Monoi in a car if you are the only occupant then you aren’t a risk to anyone but yourself. If your lifelong goal is to win a Darwin Award more power to you. ‘

    Actually, people have been killed by other people exiting vehicles at high speed.

    Additionally, this from personal experience.

    Years ago, I was travelling south on the A380 down to the Poole area when an old boy set out to cross ahead of me, heading to the central reservation/crossing (where he was obviously planning to wait until he could turn north on my A road).

    Anyway, he set out woefully late and a dickhead ahead of me who was zooming south clipped the back of the old boy’s car and span it.

    Result: old biddy (not wearing belt) was flung clear of the rear of the vehicle and into the road.

    Further result: another car travelling behind but ahead of me took evasive action and rolled his vehicle in the process.

    He was OK (the old biddy was cut and bruised but OK too) but he could easily have been killed, and I’m certain this may have happened elsewhere and ended less happily.

    I often don’t wear my belt, despite having had it drummed into me by various people at various times, not all of them generally risk averse, but I think it’s a sensible law and we’re at the outer edges of libertarian insanity if we worry too much about it because it is sometimes not just about you, even if you’re the only person in the car.

  41. Interested-

    This is the interesting point though, because this is about shifting the Overton Window. At the time of the law being passed, as with the motorcycle helmet law, it wasn’t the “outer edges of libertarian insanity” to be opposed. And this is how things constantly shift towards the authoritarian.

    Whether or not something is a good policy at a personal level is a different question to whether laws should be made to force it upon people. But earlier examples like the seatbelt law set the precedent; once you’ve accepted X you don’t have an argument from liberty against Y or Z. This is I think one reason the Proggies like to do apparently trivial but very personal interventions. Once the State is watching whether you’re clunk-clicking, you’ve opened up pretty much your whole life to scrutiny.

    Safety is pernicious, which is why it’s such a popular justification.

  42. Bloke in North Dorset

    Theo,

    “Rubicon… thin end of the wedge…even dhimmitude….Methinks there is some over-reaction here, because a few pence on sugar-rich soft drinks is not a diminution of liberty.”

    You do have Chris Snowdon in your RSS feed, don’t you?

    Professor MacGregor: The other point I would like to raise is that most countries see this as an escalating tax. They start off at 10%; Mexico now wants to go to 20%, France has gradually increased it, Finland has, and last year it was blocked by the food industry, so everywhere you see the power of the food industry trying to block these moves. But like alcohol and cigarettes, once you have started it you gradually screw it up, as with cigarettes; there is, I think, about 800% tax on them now, and yet we are quite happy with that.

    And if you really do believe it will stick at a few pence and that the data won’t be rigged to show that its working I’ve got a deal on a bridge just for you.

  43. Of course the sugar tax is bad policy. But it’s good politics.

    As the FT noted this morning, if you’re going to present bad news in a budget it’s quite clever to get Jamie Oliver to spring to your defence.

    And it does seem to have worked.

  44. IanB

    “By the way, historically attempts to limit unhealthy sins like drinking, smoking etc precede socialist welfare policies, rather than being a “necessary” consequence. An obvious example is the USA, which has no NHS but is the world leader in nannyism…”

    The existence of the NHS strengthens the motivation of politicians to introduce taxes like the sugar tax. Of course, there’s no necessary connection with welfare policies. Indeed, the pre-NHS attempts to limit alcohol abuse were also in part concerned with the social costs, as you know if you weren’t determined to make history fit the Procustean bed of your obsessions.

    What never ceases to amaze me is that libertarians like you are more concerned with public health guidelines, dietary advice and a few pence on sugar-rich drinks – none of which reduce liberty — than with advancing and guarding economic and civil liberties, or campaigning to end the EU tyranny. And then I look at the website of the Libertarian Alliance and note the convoluted theoretical and pseudo-historical pieces available, few of which have much to do with liberty. You are there obsessing about puritanism, or something. Sean Gabb thinks that he will “probably” vote against remaining in the EU, but thinks there is another side to the argument. What sort of libertarian is not unequivocally opposed to the EU and all its works?

  45. BiND

    “And if you really do believe it will stick at a few pence and that the data won’t be rigged to show that its working I’ve got a deal on a bridge just for you.”

    Why should we be concerned if the sugar tax is ramped up? It’s a non-issue for me. I’d rather the government taxed sugar-rich drinks than many other things I can think of.

  46. ‘Taxing an ingredient in just *one* type of product? Insane.’

    Indeed. Government is empowered to tax to raise revenue for its just activities. This is a perversion; taxing to influence the people’s behavior.

  47. ‘Sugar consumption is a factor in a wide range of diseases.’

    BULLSHIT AND BEYOND !!!

    BUT IF SO, BAN IT!

    How can a just government use ‘a factor in a wide range of diseases’ for revenue? Sick, sick, sick.

    The U.S. has high taxes on cigarettes BECAUSE. But they don’t ban them. It’s ridiculous.

  48. It’s just a tax, people. The song and dance is to get you to accept it.

    Gamecock’s test of valid taxes:

    1. Is it applied to the general population?
    2. Is it levied in equal amounts or equal rates?

    Yes to both. So as a method of raising revenue, it is fair. But the crap about health factors is just crap. Add the tax because you need the money, and leave the virtue signaling in the lorry.

  49. Theo,

    Libertarians constantly discuss economic (particularly) and civil liberties. If you cannot grasp that punitive taxation is an issue of economic, civil and personal liberty, I pity you.

    But I suspect what you mean by economic liberty is the narrow conservative desire to pay fewer taxes yourself, and have other people pay them instead, so you are fine with high taxation so long as it’s levied on sinners rather than yourself.

    And of course you handwave away the puritanism underlying this and the rest of the public health fanaticism. The difference between you and a libertarian, is that libertarians desire freedom for everyone, not just for oneself at the expense of everyone else.

  50. Also-

    Why should we be concerned if the sugar tax is ramped up? It’s a non-issue for me.

    Is your name by any chance Jack, and would you describe yourself currently as “all right”?

  51. “Progressivism is predicated on the manipulation of the moral sense. The greatest power goes to those who can control the perceptions/definitions of Good and Evil. And the Proggies are very, very good at that indeed.”

    Sounds like the theme of The Abolition of Man by CS Lewis.

  52. Andrew M,

    Bollocks. There is risk compensation, always is. Or are you pretending that you would behave the same whether you had a spike sticking out of your steering wheel or wearing a seat belt?

    @ly,

    Ill leave aside the retarded comment about Darwin Award as it just reflects your level of thinking and comprehension, but if seat belts protect people inside from their own stupidity, it has been shown that it certainly doesn’t protect people on the outside.

    Nothing in life is as simplistic, although obviously it reassures the not to bright, and there is always a seen/unseen effect.

    If I’m in somebody’s car and they want me to wear a seatbelt, I will since it’s their gaff, their rules. In my car, you do as you wish.

    As for the nhs angle mentioned earlier, apart from being idiotic, then what are we waiting for to ban the nhs itself since it kills a lot more people than cars?

  53. Just like the Lloyd George budget, in years to come, people will talk of the Osborne budget. But not in a good way.

  54. Any old time MP vermin still alive who voted for seatbelts need their pensions confiscating also.

    Hopefully that will land some of them in the gutter to die.

  55. Bloke in North Dorset

    BiND

    “Why should we be concerned if the sugar tax is ramped up? It’s a non-issue for me. I’d rather the government taxed sugar-rich drinks than many other things I can think of.”

    Because it won’t achieve its stated aim of reducing obesity and its regressive. Furthermore, its been sort of hypothecated so in the extremely unlikely event that it did work the tax would fall to zero and the good cause would loose funding.

    We can disagree about the amount of tax and spend a Government should be doing, but lets at least make the way we raise the taxes we do impose progressive and efficient.

  56. Gamecock,

    “1. Is it applied to the general population?
    2. Is it levied in equal amounts or equal rates?”

    That is the eye test for whether a tax makes sense. If it fails these two then the tax may still be appropriate but it needs a solid justification.

    Currently I am trying to understand the justifications behind the various rules that allowed Romney to pay an effective rate of 14.1% in the same year I paid 22.3% when he made over 200 times as much as I did.

    My major issue is with capital gains. Arguments for the current lower rate that bother me are risk and inflation. I will stick to risk for today.

    A professional poker player is taking risks that can be described in almost the exact same way. Both investing and poker have elements of luck and skill. Both have a good chance of losing what they put in. Why is the poker player taxed at a higher rate than the investor from the payer’s side? I understand the general welfare argument well enough to not need further explanation now.

    What would be helpful for refining my inflation issue is any information that helps to explain why the prices I pay in the real world are so much higher than one would expect based on inflation, banking costs and taxes.

    Monoi,

    ” it has been shown that it certainly doesn’t protect people on the outside.” citation please. I am willing to accept reduced visibility argument for helmets as many helmets do reduce visibility. There is no similarly plausible argument with seat belts. A bad driver becoming even worse just because they buckle up is highly unlikely imho, but anything is possible so show me. We are all going to die in the end. As long as you don’t add undue burdens to me feel free to make your own path to the end.

  57. IanB

    As usual, you don’t answer my points and then – ad hominem – you attribute views to me that I don’t hold.

    Please tell me what makes a tax on sugar-rich drinks “punitive”? How does such a tax reduce liberty? Indeed, how could it reduce liberty or be punitive if it’s likely to be as ineffective BiND argues?

  58. And we see this morning that – far from just paying for plastic bags in the supermarket – we are now to be expected to pay for our disposable coffee cups.

    These people never, ever stop. And the ones that say ‘Oh, well, doesn’t affect me, so why should I worry?’ are idiots.

    Sooner or later, it WILL affect you.

  59. I wouldn’t mind a tax on laminated paper coffee cups. Chewing gum is another thing that could be taxed.

  60. @IanB

    ‘This is the interesting point though, because this is about shifting the Overton Window. At the time of the law being passed, as with the motorcycle helmet law, it wasn’t the “outer edges of libertarian insanity” to be opposed. And this is how things constantly shift towards the authoritarian.’

    No, you’re talking bollocks. Your failure to wear a motorbike helmet affects only you – if you exit a car horizontally at high speed and kill someone on the pavement that affects them.

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