In principle, I am against any sort of sin tax. That is, I am against the government using taxation to effectively dictate morality or favor “preferable” outcomes. Most people probably agree with this reasoning. But most people also display apathy, complacence, and/or support when the sin tax is something they really don’t like. “Oh, cigarettes? Yeah, but come on, they really are just horrible!”

The most recent example of the government trying to steer people in the ‘right’ direction is through heavy taxation of junk foods. An article in the Chicago Tribune says this about the ineffectiveness of fat taxes:

To make a significant dent in escalating rates of obesity, taxes would have to be steep and widespread. Two-thirds of states now impose a modest soft-drink tax — the average rate is 5.2 percent — and although these tariffs statistically are linked to decreased body weight, the drop is extremely slight: about 3 ounces for a 5-foot, 10-inch person weighing 279 pounds.

Yet again, there are negative unintended consequences to every time the government interferes with voluntary actions of individuals:

There’s some evidence that such taxes can have the perverse effect of increasing consumption of fatty or salty foods.

I’d advise everyone to not support any sin taxes for the same reason why censorship is a bad thing: give government the power to decide what’s best for everyone and they’re more likely to take away your liberties “for your own good.” If they can tax junk food, they can tax porn, offensive music, or video games.

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