Remember the proposed soda tax? The added penny per fluid ounce, generating $50 billion in funds to combat obesity in the next 10 years?
Well, forget about it.
Never mind obesity. To hell with diabetes.
The beverage industry needs to grow its bottom line, and no one is going to to tax its products. Certainly not a bunch of do gooders on behalf of the “nanny-state”.
You see, in this great democracy called America, money votes. And through a series of contributions and investments of the American Beverage Association, the proposed tax has been all but buried.
In a saddening-as-much-as-it-is-enlightening article in the Los Angeles Times, the money trail is revealed. A series of well planned moves by beverage industry lobbyists included:
1. Discrediting researchers from Yale and UCLA who linked soft drink consumption with obesity.
2. Funding of research that showed no relationship between soft drink consumption and obesity. The researchers are or have been on the payroll of the beverage industry at one time.
3. Contribution to Hispanic organizations. Reasoning: the soda tax will hit the poor the most. Hispanic groups are now against the tax, despite diabetes hitting Latino youths especially hard.
4. A $10 million Ad campaign aired on prime time and playing on chords of hard working moms not needing to pay extra in these tough times.
5. Enlisting the aid of other industries in order to thwart the tax:
“The industries in our coalition realized that this is a slippery slope, that once government reaches into the grocery cart, your business could be next,” said Kevin Keane, senior vice president, public affairs, for the American Beverage Assn.
6. A big bribe (north of $600,000) to the American Academy of Family Physicians, to be used to underwrite “educational materials to help consumers make informed decisions.”
What you need to know:
Make no mistake, soda pop and sweetened beverages are a major contributing factor to obesity. The price poor people are paying for their soda now is minuscule compared to their health expenses 10 or 20 years down the road. Unfortunately, there is no ANTI-Beverage-Association with deep pockets to coordinate a counter offensive.
As long as companies externalize the true cost of their products, gullible consumers will choose cheap and sweet satisfaction now, with heart disease and heartache down the road. This must end, but as you can see, there are no effective mechanisms, even at government levels, to stave off the power of corporate lobbies.
And with the recent supreme court decision to allow unlimited campaign contribution by companies to our politicians, you can rest assured Washington DC will NOT make an effort to change things.
What to do at the supermarket:
If you want to impact change, stop buying liquid calories. Switch to tap water. Switch your whole family. Switch as many of your friends and neighbors as you can to do the same. You’ll save money, you’ll save your health.
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