will assume for the sake of argument that certain people will succeed in
financially penalizing fast food restaurant chains for selling products detrimental
to human health. Then what?
Well, what comes next depends on how the money is to be paid, who will collect
it and what kind of deal Big Fast Food cuts for itself in the process.
Let us say payment will come in the form of large annual stipends paid directly
to the States, and that they will be disguised as, oh, repayments for money
spent, via Medicare, to treat those who suffered from various fast food related
illnesses over the years; heart problems, diabetes. (Sound familiar?)
We will also assume that the stipend will be paid for a decade (because everything
running off money seems to do so on decade-long cycles) and that as part
of the deal, Big Fast Food is immune from any lawsuits that would have been
filed, had the deal not been struck. (In this hypothetical, just like
in real life, none of the money goes directly to any single aggrieved fast
food customer, no matter how diseased he has become from consumption of the
A decade passes, the States get and spend their money, the people continue
to get fatter and fatter. But over the course of the decade, various
new programs, entitlements and mandates have been created on the expectation
of the yearly Big Fast Food settlement check, and when the decade comes to
a close, it suddenly occurs to the States that these programs, entitlements
and mandates cannot end simply because there is no more money. Maybe
it would be best for the stipend to continue as before, say the States, but
for an undetermined number of years to follow. Big Fast Food will bristle
and the legal floodgates will open; not only will the States be suing, but
so will countless individuals and groups, until the entire industry is mired
in countless hearings and trials, judgments, appeals, et cetera. Eventually,
the industry will be regulated into a quivering mess. (Sound familiar?)
Meanwhile, the greatest cash cow in all of this is being ignored: the customer.
It is the customer, after all, who insists on eating the accursed fast food
in the first place, even though they know it is bad for them. (Imagine
the sheer virulence!) What happened when cigarettes were finally made
the most popular target was that the States raised the taxes on them, some
States to staggering levels – seven dollars per pack in New York City (comedian
Dave Attell laments that for three dollars more, he could be smoking crack).
But you cannot effectively tax fast food the way you can cigarettes.
All cigarettes are the Devil’s work, of course, and can all be taxed without
exception, as there is no lesser degree of evil in cigarettes. Some
of the products produced by Big Fast Food can be better for you (salads,
grilled chicken), so to tax them at the same rate you would tax fries is
… well … unfair. And besides, passing a tax on individual fast food
items is shortsighted. Government should go for the big fish.
Today I am suggesting a fat tax. Not on fast food fat, but on fat people.
After all, the government has all these charts and standards suggesting the
ideal weight in proportion to one’s height; what the hell good are they when
you can’t make any money off of them?
It would work like this: Starting next quarter, someone will come to your
house with a scale, a tape measure and one of those government height / weight
charts. For every pound you are over the official standard, you will
be taxed ten dollars for that quarter.
Options: You can pay the entire amount then and there with either cash or
a credit / debit card; please, no checks. Or, you can divide the total
tax debt into 13 weekly installment payments, each payment to be sent directly
to the United States treasury by money order or a credit / debit card number;
as was previously said, please, no checks. Then your debt is paid …
that is, until the fat tax collector comes around again, at the beginning
of the next quarter. The beautiful thing about this fat tax is that
it will primarily fall on the shoulders of the poor fat people as opposed
to the rich fat people, who can afford liposuction, or a heroin addiction,
Brian S. Wise
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