Wednesday, April 7, 2010
A Few Cents makes Sense...
New York is trying to decide whether or not to pass a tax on soda and other sugary drinks. Between the state of our economy and the unusually high obesity rate of Americans, in particular children, this should be a no-brainer. It essentially has the possibility of killing two birds with one stone. First, the tax money could be put towards our failing budget and help put a stop to all the cuts in everything from transportation, education and recreation to police, firefighters and health care workers.
Second, it could put a dent in the obesity rate of our children, which not only leads to a healthier, productive future for them, but also a brighter one for us and this country.
As reported in the New York Daily News by Samuel Goldsmith, “ An independent analysis of the state budget shows failure to pass the proposed soda tax would cost new York City 16,710 health care jobs. The study conducted by the Greater New York Hospital Association, indicates a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would stop the “systematic defunding of health care” in the city. 'The revenue expected to be raised from the soda tax, all of it would go toward vital health services that would prevent the kind of layoffs we've seen over the past few years.' Brian Conway, a vice president of the association, said yesterday. Conway says a penny-per-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage tax would provide some $507 million in tax revenue per year. 'If it fails we could be looking at even deeper health care cuts,' he said. 'The consequences of that could be awful.'” The last thing we need in this economy is more job cuts. The last place we need less qualified people working is in the health field, especially with Americans health being the way it is today. I believe it better to add taxes on something non-essential like soda, than to raise things more vital to New Yorkers survival such as metrocards, and income taxes. If you don't want to pay the tax, buy another beverage such as juice or milk, which are actually healthier for you anyway. Albany and City Hall have already had to lay off many workers because of the tremendous budget deficit. They have threatened to raise public transportation prices again. They have even had to install many cuts in funding to parks and recreations, which directly affects all of us. Finally, they have come up with a way to bring some money in that won't affect you unless you choose to let it. With all the stress that comes with living and working in the big city, plus the dangers that can come along with being a metropolis, imagine less health workers being there when you need them.
America is suffering from its highest obesity rate in decades. Americans today are larger and fatter than ever before. Our diet of processed foods and sugar-filled beverages have led us to massive weight gains. That extra fat leads to a myriad of health problems which contain major factors for heart attacks and strokes. These problems are usually reserved for the elderly, but the epidemic of obesity in our country has changed that. As Claudia Kalb from Newsweek wrote, “The epidemic is most alarming among American children: rates have tripled among kids ages 12 to 19 since 1980, with one third of America's youth now overweight or obese and almost 10 percent of infants and toddlers dangerously heavy. Obese kids, defined by a body-mass index at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex, are at risk for developing conditions in childhood once monopolized by adults: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. And many are stigmatized and suffer from low self-esteem, which can lead to depression. If current trends continue, nearly one in three kids born in 2000 and one I two minorities will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime, according to the American Diabetes Association. The disease is linked to heart attack, stroke, blindness, amputation, and kidney disease. Indeed, a study published last month found that obese children are more than twice as likely to die prematurely as adults than kids on the lower end of the weight spectrum.” We need to make parents as well as children aware of this problem. By adding a tax to soda and sweetened beverages, maybe we can raise kids awareness. They may question why the price of their Cherry Coke has gone up. Questions lead to answers. This can lead them to learning how unhealthy soda actually is, and how it possibly can shorten their lifespan. Many children have never been informed how unhealthy soda is or that there are healthier alternatives available for them. People say it's impossible to make an intelligent decision without all the facts. Hopefully those added cents on that Mountain Dew will get the youth talking and maybe bring about a change in their diet.
The future of New Yorkers, both financially and physically are in bad shape as it stands now. We need to make changes now if we want that to change. We cannot afford potentially devastating cuts to our public health and health care system by laying off thousands of workers. The result of that would put people's lives in danger. If we continue to keep high sugar beverages in our childrens diets, we are putting their lives in danger. Take this first step in change and pass the soda tax which is projected to bring in hundreds of millions to help stimulate the economy and save many jobs. It also will encourage healthier lifestyle choices which lead to a brighter, healthier, more productive future for our children and our country.
Goldsmith, Samuel, "Pass the soda tax or jobs will be canned, sez group", NY Daily News, March 21, 2010 Sports Final Edition
Kalb, Claudia, "Culture of Corpulence: American Innovations In Food, Transportation, and Technology are Threatening to Supersize Us All" Newsweek, March 22, 2010 U.S. Edition