Sin Taxes: Cigarettes Tax and Soda Tax

It seems that nothing unites people of differing political views more than when local city governments tries to ban or impose a tax on consumer goods.

Two recent examples:

– Bloomberg’s New York ban on oversized soda
– California’s proposed tax on cigarettes

What bothers me about these situations is that people always argue that personal freedom is at stake. But in my opinion, in these scenarios, personal freedom is already at stake.

Companies who make these products, through their marketing, spend billions of dollars every year attacking your personal freedom. They figure out what makes you tick psychologically. They know what color makes you hungry. They know what time you came home from work. They know what you eat for dinner. They know what you watch on TV. And they use all of that to advertise to you.

Sure.. go ahead… you can pretend like you are better than everyone else and delude yourself into believing that it does not affect you. Or you can even cling to the false notion that “you” still make your own choices.

But beyond you, in society as a whole, we are all victims. Think about it. When was the last time you went to a restaurant and your choices weren’t “Coke” or “Pepsi”. Starbucks Coffee anyone?

I am not saying it’s a terrible life. I am not even arguing that there is a better alternative. Honestly I love starbucks, for their restrooms and convenience.

But please, don’t bullshit me and pretend like a “soda tax” or a ban on large sodas would be the first time someone infringe on your personal freedom. We’re all so far up corporate America’s ass, I don’t think many of us know what personal freedom is.

Case and point. When California first proposed the tax on cigarrettes, a majority of Californian supported the measure. Then tabacco companies spent millions of dollars on TV ads. Guess what? The measure lost.

So what happened there? Did people exercised their personal freedom to watch and believe TV ads? Is that what personal freedom is… the freedom to be persuaded by whoever spends the most money on ads? Really?