Opinions
Desiree Geib

The assault on sugar

Why taxing sugar is as absurd as a developing world sugar revolt

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Here's a joke for modern society: why did the chicken cross the road? It didn't, because it was too fat to support its own weight.

Alright, I get it, it's not a funny joke, but it raises an important issue in our society. Being overweight is something that shouldn't be taken lightly and a lot of people recognize this. A variety of programs are available to people who feel as though they want to "beat the scale," but when these don't seem to work, a power, high in stature and wealth, feels as though it wants to step in and fix everything with legislation -- government.

Recently, a tax on sugary beverages has been proposed in the United States. The plan would tax sugary drinks one cent per fluid ounce (or per 28 millilitres). So, your regular 591 millilitre bottle of cola from the Stör would cost approximately $2.21 before tax, compared to a measly $2.00. Now, a 10 per cent increase is quite a bit and it could stop obese people from buying their third or fourth drink in a day.

That being said, this tax would then be regarded as a hellspawn among the overweight population in the Western world because it would deprive them of their cherished caffeine and sugar fixes, but what would happen if we were to consider the pop producers on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean? Sugar cane farms in developing countries would be forced to declare bankruptcy because giants like Pepsi and Coke would be purchasing less and less of their sugar (which is already being sold at an impossibly low price) to meet the shrinking demand of their product.

These farmers would realize that the only real way for them to be profitable once again would be to start farming cotton or coffee, but because they are so short on money and have incredible debts to pay off in ludicrously short periods of time, the farmers would realize that the fastest way to make money would be to raid other farms or to simply steal from other farmers. Because they resorted to violence as a means of making money, the quality and safety of the farmers' lives in the developing world would be compromised and as a result, the taxation of sugar would have successfully fought obesity in Western nations, but would also have opened the trapdoor under sugar producing countries so they would fall to their doom as irreversibly under-developed countries.

Thankfully, though, a sugar tax would never cause a snowball effect to this extent because sugar derived from the cane isn't used in many North American sodas. Instead, glucose-fructose syrup that is produced in Canada and the U.S. counts for their sugar content. The real lesson that must be learned from this is that people must be responsible for what they put into their bodies. We shouldn't need government intervention to prevent people from becoming overweight. It is their decision and if they fall prey to consumerism, they deserve to gain weight from it. The only real way to lose weight is to build a strong mindset and lay off those damn cokes!

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