Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Politics opens flat can of pop

The proposal under discussion in the U.S. Senate to tax sugared sodas and certain juice products has my normally placid blood pressure perking at a rolling boil.

It assumes people can't make choices for themselves and takes away personal health responsibility. Personally, I can't stand sugary beverages such as Coke or Dr Pepper...I'm a Diet Pepsi guy.

There's an anxiety in some quarters over that regimen as well. Some folks think that aspartame, used in a variety of low-calorie drinks, should be banned as bad for my health.

To all sides -- let me make the decision based on what I feel is best for my health. Don't make generalizations that prevent people from doing what is best for their individual situation, lifestyle, preferences and health issues.

Don't try to tax behavior to get the job done. The marketplace will decide the winners and losers. Giving people choices is the best path to success.

I recall a former employer would not accept for reimbursement a glass of red wine on an expense account, but had no problem authorizing a hot fudge sundae with whipped cream. Components and elements of the wine have been cited by medical experts as preventing cardiovascular disease and minimizing the possibility of stroke. While there is some benefit from dairy, the sundae is a potential contributor to high cholesterol, artery plaque and diabetes.

Would someone please do the cost/benefit analysis on what is the healthier choice over the long term? Let science and the marketplace triumph over political engineering.

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