Can we tempt you to sin?

Bacon roses

It’s coming: Let’s tax the ‘social costs’ of meat!

Lifestyle control taxes used to be on smoking and alcohol but now these the public health troughers, brimming with successful strategies to get more taxpayer-funded ‘research’, are after junk food, fat, salt and sugar. Now it is meat that’s the target. Whaleoil warned you this kind of ‘mission creep’ would happen.

 

An article from the CATO institute covers this lunacy. Here are some choice titbits for your edification.

Last week, a report by University of Oxford academics calculated supposedly “optimal tax rates” on red meat (lamb, beef and pork) and processed meats (sausages, bacon, salami etc.) For the U.S., the recommend rates were as high as 34 percent and 163 percent, respectively. Such taxes, the report claims, could save 52,500 American lives per year.”

It must be true if the academics say so!

To an economist, this approach might make theoretical sense. If the World Health Organization is right that eating meat increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes (in some cases, very much disputed claims), then consumption could increase healthcare costs. Some of these costs will be borne by others, through higher government spending or healthcare premiums. Imposing a tax equal to the true external costs of the next steak, lamb chop or burger patty one eats forces consumers to face the full social costs of their eating decisions. In turn, then, the tax will somewhat reduce consumption to a supposed “optimal” level.

“A tax equal to true external costs”… so consumers face the full social costs of their eating decisions… reducing consumption to optimal levels?  Taxing to meet true external costs, the mind boggles. Is it climate change, water usage, land usage, pollution or is it some other health-related ill effect?  So many buzzwords, sounding good, meaning so little, that the noise from these sentences is like an angry hive.

Now let’s hear the other side:

Yet, in reality, the presence of external effects is no slam-dunk to justify taxes. One must also consider costs, unintended consequences and the ability of government to assess risk and harm accurately. In these areas, the meat tax advocates appear off-base. The result is their proposed tax rates look way too high, even in theory, and it’s doubtful they are the best means of improving economic welfare.

High taxes, doubtful benefits, in other words, a socialist dream backed by academic troughers.

First, the methodology appears to add up healthcare costs from extra meat consumption as if they are all costs imposed on others. But at least part of extra healthcare or medication costs of meat-eaters affected by disease would be personally financed, rather than funded through higher insurance premiums, or Medicaid or Medicare spending.

Dodgy methodology, who would have thought?

Second, the researchers seemingly ignore the health consequences of alternative foodstuffs. If taxes discourage eating red and processed meat, consumers will eat other things, as the report acknowledges. Yet the federal government’s own 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends we eat less fat, and the evidence is now strong that carbohydrates are dangerous, so—apart from white meat, vegetables and nuts—the government clearly thinks there are adverse health consequences of other foods. Yet this analysis does not consider the costs of this new consumption.

Ignoring other variables, how surprising!

Third, even if more people lived healthier, longer lives as a result of this tax, this is not costless. In fiscal terms, they would receive more in Social Security or Medicare payments. If taxpayer costs of eating habits justify new taxes, then fiscal savings arising from mortality induced by meat-eating must also be considered against it. Yet public health campaigners seemingly calculate optimal taxes as if the alternative to lifestyle-induced illness is costless.

One of the costs they haven’t included is the misery cost of living a longer, grumpy life without meat.

Why vegans live longer

In reality, sin taxes are rarely “optimal” anyway. Taxes are applied uniformly. Yet those who eat meat in healthy moderation impose no costs on others, but see the same cost uplift for a sausage as someone at high risk of requiring taxpayer healthcare support. Truly efficient taxes would recognize the differences in risks of types of consumers.

Humans are individuals they eat differently, and meat is not the only variable to consider. There is no such thing as an efficient meat tax, or sugar tax, or fat tax for that matter.

In any case, the history of lifestyles interventions suggests a sin tax on meat would be the thin end of the wedge. This research suggests, unbelievably, that 557,000 deaths per year in the U.S. are caused by red and processed meat consumption – over 20 percent of the total. One of its authors has previously suggested everyone must eventually go vegan.

Okay then, overblown stats of harmful effects, so yes, now we have the “sin tax” full monty, all neatly delivered in the guise of Academic research (so it must be true).

Did you spot the author? The article was written by a vegan! Now we’re faced with militant academic vegans!

Protect yourself from militant academic vegans by buying the Whale Meat Company ‘Sirloin & Rump Steaks’ or go the whole hog and get the ‘Big Bacon’.

Simply put, Whale Meat Company ‘Steak & Bacon’ is so good it’s sinful!


Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

Advertorial Content from Sponsors

64%