Wednesday 7 November 2018

Slippery slope: Meat tax edition

I told you this would happen...

Taxing red meat would save many lives and raise billions to pay for healthcare, according to new research. It found the cost of processed meat such as bacon and sausages would double if the harm they cause to people’s health was taken into account.

It is a modelling study (of course) involving Marco Springmann and our old friend Mike Rayner. The estimates of risk and mortality used are ridiculously high and the levels of tax they recommend are politically impossible for the time being. I was pleased to see the Chief Secretary to the Treasury give it short shrift...

But it's early days. What happens next is that a load of money goes into this field of research, more and more modelling studies are produced with each suggesting greater benefits than the last. Eventually, the evidence becomes 'overwhelming' and a future government, under pressure from environmentalists, vegans and 'public health', puts the idea out to public consultation. It dithers for a while but eventually introduce a tax at a rate of 10 or 20 per cent after pressure groups accuse it of being in the pocket of Big Pork.

I've written about this for the Spectator...

Leaving aside the garbage-in, garbage-out methodology at the root of these numbers, it seems unlikely that a British government – even one that bans plastic straws and taxes fizzy drinks – will introduce a 78 per cent tax on processed meat any time soon, although that is what the authors recommend. It is even less likely that everybody in the world will go vegan, although that is what the lead author, Marco Springmann, told delegates needed to happen at the End of Meat conference last year.

And yet every nanny state policy sounds absurd until the public have been battered with soundbites, dodgy statistics and empty promises for a few years. Nobody who has witnessed the unstoppable rise of the ‘public health’ movement over the last two decades can dismiss the possibility of a meat tax being introduced in the foreseeable future, probably followed by an advertising ban and graphic warnings.

Do have a read.

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