Posting in Cities
Corn syrup from ADM put the American sweet tooth into overdrive. Many of the roughly 300 extra calories we consume each day, compared to a few decades ago, come from products containing corn syrup. Coca-Cola is not the villain here. ADM is.
A few idealistic health researchers want to tax sugary soft drinks and they are getting a hearing in Washington.
Here in Atlanta, of course, we're outraged. Tax Coca-Cola? You may have built your city on rock and roll, but we built this city on Coke and a smile.
Atlanta has no coast, no river port, no big store of natural resources. The reason this city exists is because The Coca-Cola Co. willed it into being.
Who you think gave you Santa Claus, sonny? Haddon Sundblom probably drew that twinkle in his eye with Rhett Butler in mind. Fiddle dee-dee indeed. You can have my Coca-Cola when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
In fact I think this tax is misdirected. You will note in the picture above, taken from The Coca-Cola Co. Web site, that Santa is holding a 6 1/2 ounce bottle. That's the only way Coke was sold until the 1950s. It was an affordable luxury, not a staple, and it's still priced that way. Let's face it $1.50 for a bottle of sugary water is not really a bargain.
What changed, in our time, can be summed up in two words. Corn syrup. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) first began making high fructose corn syrup in the mid-1970s, and it has transformed America, literally.
Today, in fact, we already have a sugar tax. It's a tariff on imports of cane sugar, maintained to protect a few Florida growers, but also to protect ADM. The difference in taste between corn syrup and cane sugar is slight, but it's enough to have created a gray market for Mexican Coca-Cola, which is sweetened with cane.
Corn syrup from ADM put the American sweet tooth into overdrive. Many of the roughly 300 extra calories we consume each day, compared to a few decades ago, come from soft drinks, and many of the rest come from other products containing corn syrup. If you don't burn off those calories you gain weight. We gain weight.
Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent is leading the fight against a soft drinks tax, and I think he's right to do so. Because the problem isn't Coca-Cola. The problem is corn syrup.
What if, instead of taxing soft drinks, we just put a tax on corn syrup, so its price would be equal to that of cane sugar? I know just saying this will send ADM into a tizzy, but at least we would be targeting the right villain.
And maybe we can find an Informant! If the corn syrup tax bandwagon gets rolling I'm certain Matt Damon would do some public service ads for the good guys.
Sep 29, 2009
...do an end run around the whole circle? Instead of taxing corn syrup, why not simply end the subsidy on corn that makes all corn products (inc. syrup) artificially cheaper than they would be without that enormous subsidy. And it would reduce the deficits besides. Of course, the hue and cry (and whine) from the Midwest would be deafening, and it would probably spell the deaths of some political careers to do such a thing, so I suppose that's never going to happen. Personally, I don't drink much soda (but a lot of coffee and tea), but what soda I do drink is mostly my own homebrew--sweetened with good old-fashioned cane sugar, of course.
The metabolic differences between HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and cane sugar are not well understood by the general public, and are not accounted for at all by regulators. My 18 year old son told me the other day that HFCS is actually better for you than regular sugar and would brook no disagreement with that stand.
Regarding: "... there is no difference in the calories or usage by the body of these two sweeteners" Excuse me, but there _is_ at least one well documented difference in how the body processes these sweeteners - it's called the "Insulin Index" of a food or product. It measures the change in insulin levels as a result of a fixed amount of a substance. Corn syrup has a higher Insulin Index than cane sugar. The result of higher Insulin Index values is increased fat storage (amoung many other problems). So while it may make sense to eliminate the import tarrifs on sugar, there is a difference in how the body responds (and it seems to be pretty important).
It is not really corn syrup but high fructose corn syrup -- a really artificial sweetener -- that is a major health problem anyway. It should never have been "legalized" to begin with.
Calories per se are not the problem. Well made french fries are actually better for you than soft drinks, because starches break down more slowly and don't tax the liver like sugar does. (This assumes the fries aren't drenched in salt and sugary ketchup.) Public policy -- corporate as well as government -- has been fighting a losing battle against spreading waistlines for some time now. But taxation has done a lot to reduce smoking, and its attendant risks.
Eating is overtaking smoking as our number one public health problem, thanks in part to taxes on smokes and public policies meant to discourage smoking. IT's not just the government that is involved in trying to get people into healthier eating. Many corporations and insurance companies are trying to do the same. All elites know that our ill health is caused in part by our overweight. The overweight began after corn syrup started going into everything, and half the problem is related to sugary sodas. Sugar is also behind the rise in diabetes. Why would it be OK to use public policy against smoking, which remains legal, but not OK to use public policy to reduce our health care costs resulting from unhealthy eating? I don't understand.
eliminate the import duties on sugar, which is what forced the widespread use of the corn syrup. let them compete and quit making the public pay through the nose for their sweets. contrary to popular opinion, usually wrong, there is no difference in the calories or usage by the body of these two sweeteners.(despite what dr nancy says on msnbc. she is wrong about other things also in spite of her md.) if we wanted to change public eating habits there are better things to tax, though any one of them will end up costing the citizen who can least afford the extra cost dearly. all these ideas of changing behavior by laws and taxes all end up screwing the those with the least money. the writer of the column can hardly be considered objective or knowlegeable about the subject of corn syrup. he is just vomiting out what others , who are misinformed also, have y told him. i am a political liberal but i sure as hell do not hold on making laws and taxes to force people to eat what they do not want or like. let people eat what they want so that at end of life they can at least have the satisfaction of knowing they enjoyed their everyday meals. the bluenoses who only eat healthy foods may live longer or maybe it seems longer for they hardly ever eat anything that is tasty, and besides sheer survival, what other reason is there to eat food?
Why is the answer always a tax or additional layers of bureaucracy? How about eliminating the sugar tariffs.
The knee-jerk progressive solution to everything is to levy another tax, when most of the problems they are seeking to cure are caused by subsidies. The reality is that we're all getting fat because we don't really need to work all that much anymore, and we've made food the cheapest it's been in all of human history. So let's stop subsidizing and taxing everything in sight. Most of these problems will solve themselves.
Corn Syrup isn't the only high-calorie, low nutritional value food around. Think french fries. If you want to tax something, tax calories.
Equalizing the tax treatment of corn syrup and cane sugar won't help Castro, and it can help pay for "a decent health care system" that will deal humanely with the fat and frail.
How about no villain. Coke ain't the villain, Corn Syrup is. Ridiculous. So hit ADM? I mean sure if it makes you happy. Look the sugar tax was to punish Castro. The guys growing in Florida were Batista Cubans that fled. And screw public service messages. Just the facts will do. And anybody that thinks watching Matt Damon talk nonsense gives better results than not watching the same is the government. How about a decent health care system. In the mean time you can figure out what to do with the fat and frail.