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Monday, November 19, 2018

Economists' New Proposal to Tax Steak and Bacon to "Save Lives" Is a Really Bad Idea

By: Ryan Bourne
The Foundation for Economic Education

Some economists want to make it more expensive for the less well-off to enjoy a clear revealed pleasure: eating red and processed meat.

The average household in the poorest fifth of the income distribution dedicates 1.3 percent of spending towards it. That’s over double average household spending in the richest quintile. Yet meat is now a new “public health” target.

Lifestyle controls once stopped at smoking and drinking. They recently expanded to soda and even caffeine. Now, even the hallowed steak is not sacred.

"Optimal Levels"

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 US, the recommended rates were as high as 34 percent and 163 percent, respectively. Such taxes, the report claims, could save 52,500 American lives per year.

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 health care costs. Some of these costs will be borne by others through higher government spending or health care 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.

Read the rest at The Foundation for Economic Education.

(THL) See what happens?

Once you start letting government creep in and pay for your hospital bills there's no end to the tyranny it will claim it is justified to exercise over your life. You will no longer be a free and sovereign individual, but a soulless, interchangeable cog in a machine, a statistic. The lines between you and everyone else become blurred. Because your eating might have some social cost under socialized medicine, therefore a tax on some food group is justified, using of course, the "scientific" arguments of a technocratic goblin cloistered in his ivory cellar.