Big Brother versus Big Soda in Berkeley

The elitists who think it is their job to tell the great unwashed what to eat and to drink are at work in my hometown of Berkeley, California, with an initiative measure on the ballot that would tax sugary soda one cent per ounce. Measure D (full text here) is being fought with a full court press by the soft drink industry, which has pouted millions of dollars into pervasive advertising on local cable TV and billboards, and hiring canvassers to visit every home (ours has been visited twice).

My local BART subway station is full of ads.


For their part, proponents have been running TV ads blaming soda for childhood obesity and diabetes (“Fight diabetes: vote for Measure D”) that read at the end, “Paid for by Michael Bloomberg,” and blanketing the city with yard signs

showing happy thin children cavorting, celebrating their parents’ inability to pay for soda because of heavy taxes. I had wondered about why there were so many of these signs until one showed up in front of my house, along with a note tucked under the doormat thanking me for “my support.” Needless to say, I immediately took it down, but there was no address on the note telling me whom to complain to.

Measure D amounts to class warfare because it taxes soda pop that is favored by low income people while leaving untaxed equally caloric fruit juices and many coffee drinks that are the sugar high of choice for higher income people. In addition, soda pop purchased from mom and pop small grocery stores is exempted (I guess they don’t make you fat?), while that sold by supermarkets pays full freight.

I don’t drink soft drinks much – maybe 5 times a year, usually at a restaurant where there is no alternative. But I resent people imposing their dietary preferences on others, and using items that are unfashionable as the object of their wrath, while leaving their own elite preferences untaxed. 

The elitists who think it is their job to tell the great unwashed what to eat and to drink are at work in my hometown of Berkeley, California, with an initiative measure on the ballot that would tax sugary soda one cent per ounce. Measure D (full text here) is being fought with a full court press by the soft drink industry, which has pouted millions of dollars into pervasive advertising on local cable TV and billboards, and hiring canvassers to visit every home (ours has been visited twice).

My local BART subway station is full of ads.


For their part, proponents have been running TV ads blaming soda for childhood obesity and diabetes (“Fight diabetes: vote for Measure D”) that read at the end, “Paid for by Michael Bloomberg,” and blanketing the city with yard signs

showing happy thin children cavorting, celebrating their parents’ inability to pay for soda because of heavy taxes. I had wondered about why there were so many of these signs until one showed up in front of my house, along with a note tucked under the doormat thanking me for “my support.” Needless to say, I immediately took it down, but there was no address on the note telling me whom to complain to.

Measure D amounts to class warfare because it taxes soda pop that is favored by low income people while leaving untaxed equally caloric fruit juices and many coffee drinks that are the sugar high of choice for higher income people. In addition, soda pop purchased from mom and pop small grocery stores is exempted (I guess they don’t make you fat?), while that sold by supermarkets pays full freight.

I don’t drink soft drinks much – maybe 5 times a year, usually at a restaurant where there is no alternative. But I resent people imposing their dietary preferences on others, and using items that are unfashionable as the object of their wrath, while leaving their own elite preferences untaxed.