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Old 06-14-2006, 03:42 PM   #46
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Originally posted by Irvine511




agreed, but a gas tax would do much more than make people thinner (and maybe if food were more expensive, we'd be more careful about what we bought).

i mean the gas tax to address a whole host of other problems, not just obesity.

i don't understand your expensive city line -- most expensive cities in north america have extensive commuter rail systems, it's those in the sticks who have to drive everywhere.

which is fine. their COLA is vastly lower than mine is, and i certainly pay for my public transportation in higher taxes and the fact that i still pay close to $2 every time i hop on the Metro, which is at least twice a day.
We do have considerably higher gas taxes in Canada and in Europe than you do and has that really done much in terms of people being deterred? Yes, you can argue there are more fuel-efficient cars, which is certainly true, but at the same time it goes to show that people are willing to pay a lot more money than they are now for gas in order to still keep the privilege of driving.

As for the cities - they usually have better transportation systems but not always. Look at LA for a shining example of a gigantic city with a pathetic public transit. Toronto's subway system is limited in its coverage area and that means you rely on buses and streetcars and when it takes you 2 hours to get home because there's snow on the road and the bus failed to show up, you rethink things. But that wasn't my point as much as the fact that many, many people I know can't afford to live in the city! Yes, it's great to live on the subway system, but how many of my friends are surviving on $30K/year plus student loan payments? They have to move to the suburbs unless they want to live in some shithole in the city. So then you get into the cycle of buying a car, even if it's a junk bucket because commuting on transit from the suburbs = suicide.
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Old 06-14-2006, 04:01 PM   #47
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Quote:
Originally posted by anitram
[B]

We do have considerably higher gas taxes in Canada and in Europe than you do and has that really done much in terms of people being deterred? Yes, you can argue there are more fuel-efficient cars, which is certainly true, but at the same time it goes to show that people are willing to pay a lot more money than they are now for gas in order to still keep the privilege of driving.

and they can pay for that privilege.

again, my arguments for the gas tax has less to do with obesity and much more to do with geopolitcs, though motivating people to walk more and to demand better public transportation is certainly a beneficial side effect.


[q] But that wasn't my point as much as the fact that many, many people I know can't afford to live in the city! Yes, it's great to live on the subway system, but how many of my friends are surviving on $30K/year plus student loan payments? They have to move to the suburbs unless they want to live in some shithole in the city. So then you get into the cycle of buying a car, even if it's a junk bucket because commuting on transit from the suburbs = suicide. [/q]


well, i've lived in shitholes ... yes, i am sympathetic to the outrageous costs of living in a city, but ultimately i'm not all that terribly concerned about students who have tight budgets, but a good university education who's lifetime earning potential is considerable. so what happens in 5 years when $30K becomes $50K? in 10 years? ultimately, few taxes are perfect, and i think that a gas tax is something people react to simply because they see it at the pump, and if you didn't see it, you wouldn't become so outraged about it.

the people who will feel this the most are mom and pop exurbanite who drive 2 SUVs to and from work and school and soccer practice every single day. and let's think about the state of the world. American gas taxes are about $.18 per gallon. laughable, considering the benefits of a gas tax. there are soaring deficits, numerous wars of convenience to pay for, and we've not been asked to sacrafice a thing (save for 2,500 dead soldiers from mostly Red States). gas taxes are easy to collect, and since an overwhelming majority of North Americans drive, few avoid the tax, and the tax would encourage conservation, accelerate fuel efficiency, reduce pollution, cut traffic and help us be less dependent upon the Middle East.

what's not to like?
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Old 06-14-2006, 04:21 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
again, my arguments for the gas tax has less to do with obesity and much more to do with geopolitcs, though motivating people to walk more and to demand better public transportation is certainly a beneficial side effect.

.
.
.

the people who will feel this the most are mom and pop exurbanite who drive 2 SUVs to and from work and school and soccer practice every single day. and let's think about the state of the world. American gas taxes are about $.18 per gallon. laughable, considering the benefits of a gas tax. there are soaring deficits, numerous wars of convenience to pay for, and we've not been asked to sacrafice a thing (save for 2,500 dead soldiers from mostly Red States). gas taxes are easy to collect, and since an overwhelming majority of North Americans drive, few avoid the tax, and the tax would encourage conservation, accelerate fuel efficiency, reduce pollution, cut traffic and help us be less dependent upon the Middle East.

what's not to like?
That is an odd carrot and stick approach - increase financial pain and hope that people demand alternatives.

At best, a tax program should be structured in a way where the taxes collected go directly to alternative fuels research and improved mass transit.

Otherwise, you are just feeding the political beast.

And unlike DC perhaps, mass transit fall far short of meeting the needs of the average citizen in North America. And the few cities with good mass transit still have significant traffic congestion.
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Old 06-14-2006, 04:36 PM   #49
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It's easy to view an increased gas tax as an acceptable solution when you have access to public transportation or basic necessary services within walking or biking distance, but when you live in the middle of nowhere, it is an extra expense that many people couldn't afford. There are no buses or subways that can take me from my home (I live in a tiny 27 person community) to work (in a town 12 miles away). And since the closest grocery store is in the town 12 miles away, as much as I would like to ride my bike instead of drive my car, I can't very well carry groceries home for a family of 4 for 12 miles while riding my bike. Not to mention, if I want to see a movie, buy a cd, have more than one clothing store as an option, etc., I have to travel 60 miles. When you don't make much money and can't simply hop on a bus, gas is almost too expensive as it is, without increasing taxes. I can see how it might be a more viable option in certain urban centres, but it just isn't realistic for everyone.
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Old 06-15-2006, 12:34 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally posted by anitram
They'll never levy a tax on Diet Coke or any diet drinks because a) they have no sugar and no calories so it makes no sense and b) you'd be punishing diabetics.
putting a tax on sugared drinks is a punishment to diabetics as well.
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Old 06-15-2006, 01:16 AM   #51
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So it boils down to the government having the power to strong arm people into the right habits because their irresponsible decisions are detrimental to the welfare of the society.

The argument makes sense in that people who don't take care of themselves are leeching money out of the health system with preventable diseases caused by their own actions.

I personally think that having higher insurance premiums based on risk - including being overweight, heavy drinking and smoking - would be better than punitive taxation.
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Old 06-15-2006, 02:24 AM   #52
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Originally posted by A_Wanderer
So it boils down to the government having the power to strong arm people into the right habits because their irresponsible decisions are detrimental to the welfare of the society.
No one is 'strong arming' anyone.

Some are simply suggesting a small tax on junk food to pay for health education programs designed to guide people into making healthy food choices.

Everyone will still be able to eat whatever and however much they want, just at a slightly higher price.
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Old 06-15-2006, 09:09 AM   #53
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Yet another approach to the problem...

I guess they were too "chicken" to go after McDonalds.


KFC Sued for Fattening Menu

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=2070417&page=1

Quote:
June 13, 2006 — The fast food chain KFC is being sued for the fat content in its fried chicken, which Center for Science in the Public Interest says contains "staggering amounts" of trans fat.
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Old 06-15-2006, 09:31 AM   #54
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My opinion is that the irresponsible decisions are based on commercialism. Instead of a "fat tax", I think it would be better to not allow companies to advertise unhealthy food. Or perhaps tax them heavily for advertising so they have to raise their prices and the healthy food suppliers have more of a chance. If the "trend" of advertising was geared towards healthy foods, the companies that make the unhealthy foods would be challenged to produce only healthy products.

Time Magazine had a section with articles
addressing the way we eat in the June 12th addition. It had a tour through the supermarket suggesting what to look for and how bad food is pushed at you all the way through.
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Old 06-15-2006, 10:22 AM   #55
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Quote:
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My opinion is that the irresponsible decisions are based on commercialism. Instead of a "fat tax", I think it would be better to not allow companies to advertise unhealthy food. Or perhaps tax them heavily for advertising so they have to raise their prices and the healthy food suppliers have more of a chance. If the "trend" of advertising was geared towards healthy foods, the companies that make the unhealthy foods would be challenged to produce only healthy products.


agreed -- people get so up-in-arms about the content of children's programming, yet fail to see that the commercials for Lucky Charms and Pop-Tarts are going to do far, far more harm to your child's health than Pokeman ever will.
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Old 06-15-2006, 11:07 PM   #56
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Here's an interesting side note. I read somewhere that people in other countries often assume that Americans are all thin and beautiful (presumably because of the influence of movies and TV). One of my high school students who is from China confirmed this. She was quite shocked when I told her that most Americans are overweight. Couuldn't believe it.
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Old 06-15-2006, 11:22 PM   #57
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Here's an interesting side note. I read somewhere that people in other countries often assume that Americans are all thin and beautiful (presumably because of the influence of movies and TV). One of my high school students who is from China confirmed this. She was quite shocked when I told her that most Americans are overweight. Couuldn't believe it.
Yes, and what bothers me is that it's not only being overweight, but unhealthy in general. I recently read an article about a woman - I can't remember exactly what the numbers were but I want to say she was around 5'4" and weighed like 145lbs - who went to several different types of doctors to see how healthy she was, not just based on weight (b/c 145 is not bad if you ask me). I think all but 1 doctor said that she was not very healthy, based of the info she gave them about her nutrition, exercise, and the calculations of BMI. The article hit home for me because I don't consider myself overweight by any means, but I feel like such a slug and am ashamed by most of what I eat.
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Old 06-16-2006, 06:58 AM   #58
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511

there are soaring deficits
Just an offhand comment of course but I saw an article that seems to refute this
Quote:
Aided by surging tax receipts, President Bush may make good on his pledge to cut the deficit in half in 2006 — three years early.

Tax revenues are running $176 billion, or 12.9%, over last year, the Treasury Department said Monday. The Congressional Budget Office said receipts have risen faster over the first eight months of fiscal '06 than in any other such period over the past 25 years — except for last year's 15.5% jump.

The 2006 deficit through May was $227 billion, down from $273 billion at this time last year. Spending is up $130 billion, or 7.9%.
link

Now it would be quite mad to label the Bush administration small government but isn't this shift lowering the deficit and not surging it higher?
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Old 06-16-2006, 11:03 AM   #59
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Yes, there are two components to tax revenue - gross income and tax rates. The strengthening of the economy as has occurred over the last 4 years increases gross income, thus increases tax revenue.

This is the best way to fund government - a strong economy, not high tax rates.
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Old 06-16-2006, 11:10 AM   #60
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there was also this in the article:

[q]While economic growth is producing impressive tax revenue gains, budget experts say they won't be enough to wipe out deficits, especially as baby boomers retire. Englund thinks the deficit could hit $150 billion if the expansion lasts two or three more years. "When we go into a downturn, the numbers reverse," he said.

Long-term growth in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid "threaten to force either European-style tax increases, unprecedented spending cuts or unprecedented debt," said Heritage Foundation budget expert Brian Riedl. "There's no growing out of the long-term budget problems."

Heritage sees an $800 billion deficit in 2016, assuming tax cuts are extended and spending stays on its present course. If the economy and tax receipts continue to outperform, the deficit would still be at least $600 billion, Riedl said.

[/q]



but, hey, so long as we can push out a good soundbyte for 2006 and 2008 -- we're all good!
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