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Letters to the editor

March 9, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

Reduction on soft drink taxes a bad policy idea

House Bill 1546 reducing taxes on soft drinks is bad tax policy.

First, the tax is efficiently collected at little cost to the state or businesses. Second, the tax is low enough that the urge to drive across state lines to save two cents per can of soda is very low. A customer will pay more gas tax on the drive across state lines than he would save. Third, people opposed to paying taxes can easily avoid paying the tax by not buying the product. Buying coffee or water rather than a sweetened soft drink will allow the thirsty tax-averse customer to avoid paying the tax. The business will still get a sale. Fourth, tooth decay, obesity, diabetes and heart disease are all associated with soft drink consumption with larger consumption increasing risk. The tax may or may not reduce soda consumption and the negative health effects associated with soda consumption. However, the tax is paid by people who will suffer the consequences of their decision to drink soda. The abstainers incur no health cost and less tax expenses for health care of the people who decide differently.

Good tax policy would increase voluntary taxes on sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, gasoline and marijuana to raise revenue from consenting taxpayers without any coercion. This would also allow reducing taxes that are compelled by law on income and general sales. All of the above products have negative externalities, costs imposed on people who do not consume the product. For example; increased diabetes leading to increased health insurance premiums, domestic violence and traffic accidents, secondhand smoke and fires, bankruptcy and pollution. Taxes making the products more expensive will marginally reduce consumption. This reduces both personal bad effects of consumption and the adverse externalities. A win win situation rare in public policy where trade-offs are essential.

Mark Weaver


Has Washington County adopted D.C. nastiness?

The toxic politics of Washington, D.C., have trickled down to the Washington County Quorum Court.

A recent Monday night's County Services Committee meeting was anything but a service to the county. JPs Sam Duncan, Jim Wilson and County Attorney Brian Lester managed to pull off a victory for the good old boys club by maneuvering an end run around decorum, common sense and Robert's Rules of Order.

The purpose of the rancorous debacle was seemingly to limit the debate around CARES act funds and minimum habitability ordinances brought forward by their female Democratic colleagues. Community members have been asking for four months about $4.5 million the county received. What were the county's eligible coronavirus-related expenses? What is the plan to disburse the CARES Act funds? The only answer to date is this squelch of the democratic process.

If the same amount of time, energy and effort were applied to designing solutions to speed our economic recovery, everyone in the county would be better served. Perhaps the good old boys will have a nap and a snack before the full Quorum Court meeting on the 18th and they can start working for constituents. This toxicity is not working for anyone.

Kate Wallis



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