- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Cook County, Illinois, famous around conservative circles for its Chicago land of outrageous gun control — a city to point to as an example of how government ought not be run — may finally have hit one out of the ballpark.

In a hurried vote, on the heels of widespread public pressure, Cook County Board of Commissioners voted 15-1 to roll back a soda tax — a 1-cent-per-ounce soda tax that had just been implemented a couple months ago.

It’s a bit funny, really. Chicago’s gang problem, gun violence problem and decrepit inner-city crumblings have gone on for years. But stick a tax on soda?

We’ve got a fight on our hands, brother, of epic Knute Rockne proportions.

But beyond all that, the deeper message of Cook County’s move from tax to untax shows not only a growing frustration with soda taxes — and not just locally. Nationally, too. But it also shows the utter nonsensical rationale behind the nanny state notion that government, through taxation, will save people from themselves.

It’s no coincidence that Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City Democratic mayor, is involved in pushing these taxes around the nation. Bloomberg’s one of government’s biggest nanny-staters around. He’s got a background that includes taxing everything from sugary drinks to Styrofoam restaurant take-out containers. He’s never met a plastic bag that didn’t remind him of dollar signs.

But the so-called science of charging more for soda in order to fight obesity is both skewed and condescending.

Let the people drink their soda, for crying out loud.

“It doesn’t matter if you tax tea or sugar,” said Commissioner Richard Boykin, in The Washington Post. “Eventually, people say ‘enough is enough.’ “

Quite right. It wasn’t just public backlash that led the commissioners to repeal the tax. It was the growing awareness that the tax just wasn’t going to yield the promised results — that in the end, the jurisdiction’s $1.8 billion deficit wasn’t going to be fixed by soda sales. Why not? Legal challenges abounded; unintended consequences of the tax loomed.

Boycotts, too, abounded and citizens, angry at the imposition, simply drove across state lines to stock up on lower-taxed soda.

The people have spoken, it seems. And while the area may have its share of gun deaths, and still be grappling with a plague of gang violence, when it comes to soda, the problem’s been solved. On the question of tax or not to tax, the people have rallied, resolved, revolted and triumphed, all in speedy time. Nothing like a little soda price hike to make the masses mad enough to demand change, it seems.

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