As an hors d'oeuvre, check out the Choose Health SF website. Its blog and FAQ sections offer particularly good sport. Anybody with a rational mind left San Francisco years ago, leaving a population of quacks, hypochondriacs, drug casualties and champagne socialists. It shows. There is barely a sentence on this website that does not rely, at best, on logical fallacies. More commonly, it relies on bizarre assertions and free association.
For example, it is well known that indirect taxes are regressive (ie. they take a larger share of income from the poor than from the rich). It also seems to be the case that people on low incomes tend to drink more fizzy drinks than people on high incomes. Taxing these drinks is therefore indisputably regressive, but in the world of Public Health—especially in California—words mean whatever you want them to mean:
Isn't this just a regressive tax that will further hurt people with low incomes?
A: Spending millions to aggressively market cheap sodas to low-income communities—which are most impacted by the diabetes epidemic—is regressive.
No it isn't. That's not what it means at all. Try using a dictionary.
Soda companies sell sugary drinks at artificially low prices and then pour billions into marketing to get people to drink more and more. That is regressive.
No it isn't—and any company selling something at an 'artificially low price' (whatever that means) whilst spending billions on marketing would go out of business. Soda is expensive. Tap water isn't. Drink that and shut the hell up.
Elsewhere, the valiant supporters of regressive taxation address the slippery slope argument. This is particularly delicious since San Francisco has for decades been at the centre of many novel anti-smoking policies that have—despite the assurances of wide-eyed campaigners—subsequently been applied to other products. It is more than likely that some of the parents of the soda tax campaigners were making assurances in the 1980s about tobacco being a 'unique product' while insisting that anti-smoking policies would never be applied to things like, well, soda.
Won't you just try to tax other things that are unhealthy for us if this soda tax passes? Why not tax jelly donuts and other fattening foods?
A: The beverage industry likes to argue that if you can’t solve every health problem, don’t bother trying to solve any health problem.
That's not their argument here. The argument is that if you tax soda, you'll tax anything with a high calorie content next.
The fact is that sugary beverages are a unique and significant cause of diabetes and other diseases.
But anti-smoking campaigners said that tobacco was a 'unique' cause of disease and scoffed at the notion that anti-smoking policies were the thin end of the wedge. Why should we believe you this time? Why should we think you will stop at soda?
Would anyone ever argue that we shouldn’t tax cigarettes since there are other causes of lung cancer?
That's right folks. They're arguing that soda taxes won't set a precedent for other products by citing tobacco as a precedent for soda taxes. It's the next logical step, innit?
Informed observers on both sides of the sin tax debate believe that a no vote in San Francisco could kill off soda taxes worldwide. Their reasoning is that if the stoned bunnies of the Bay Area don't vote for it, no one will. I think they have a point so watch this space.