Saturday, April 23, 2016

The soda tax - why Bernie fails at complex issues just like Donald

According to America's favorite grumpy old man Bernie Sanders, the Berkeley, California, soda tax apparently was put in by the right wing regressive tax mongers who control that bastion of fascism.

I know that's not what Bernie said exactly, but nonetheless what he said effectively asserts that. In an interview he laid out his position:
Sanders addressed issues both national and local, including [Philadelphia Democratic] Mayor Jim Kenney’s plan of a soda tax to fund youth educational initiatives.

“My disagreement is how he proposed to fund it,” Sanders said. “I think that taxing soda is a regressive way to fund it. That tax burden will likely come down on low-income and working families, many of which are struggling right now to make ends meet.”

How would Sanders fund it?

“The way I would fund it is you ask the wealthiest people in this country, who are doing phenomenal well, to start paying their fair share of taxes,” he explained.
Bernie, like most 19-year-old college students, sees the world with a politically simplistic mind.

While running for office last year, Philadelphia Democratic Mayor Kenney outlined a program that would establish schools as hubs of the community and provide universal pre-kindergarten programs for 3- and 4-year-olds without needing to raise property taxes. Since he was elected, Kenney has struggled to find a way to make it all work and has come up with a plan and the funding - the latter being a tax on soda.

Of course we would all prefer that the wealthiest people in the country be taxed to fund programs like this. That's why such programs don't exist in cities like Philadelphia.

Heck, we all know that having been in Congress for 25 years, Bernie solved the problem years ago by having Congress fund universal pre-kindergarten programs across the nation by taxing the Koch brothers.

Except he didn't and couldn't and doesn't have a clue about how bad it was to rant about taxing the rich in that Philadelphia context while ignoring the kids Kenney is trying to help. And his supporters say that's just fine because they support Bernie's socialist values.

Except a true socialist - you know, not a European Social Democrat but a true socialist - would simply ban both sweetened and artificially sweetened soft drinks because of what they do to the health of the poor and everyone else resulting in higher medical costs which have to be funded by the government.

And then a true socialist would take over ownership of alternative beverage companies because that is what socialists believe - that production should be owned by the government.

Bernie is not a socialist as explained in The Socialist Case Against Bernie which points out:
He does not call for nationalizing the corporations and banks, without which the reorganization of the economy to meet people’s needs rather than maximizing the profits of capitalist investors could not take place … He is clearly seeking to reform the existing capitalist system.
Bernie is as delusional as Donald when it comes to dealing with complex issues. There is a reason why things haven't worked out so well in the real world for the delusional. There are other delusional people who disagree with you with that same level of passion.

But back to the soda tax. A tax on soda is one way of raising money, a way that has been used very successfully by those right wingers in Berkeley.

The arguments are complicated but one of the best written summaries was Think a Soda Tax Is Regressive? Try Diabetes. And at the same time the voters of Berkeley voted for the tax, the voters in San Francisco voted against it as explained in Why Berkeley passed a soda tax and S.F. didn’t.

The problem is when you isolate the economics of a soda tax, it is regressive. And when you can't provide universal pre-kindergarten programs you are putting the next generation from low income families at a disadvantage.

Having discovered the soda tax, does a progressive like Kenney throw the baby out with the bath water? Bernie would because the babies aren't important, it's the principle of the thing.

Hillary, who unlike Bernie has raised a baby, understands that in the real world of politics and government to get approval of, and implement, programs that benefit people you have to pick the best available options.

Until Bernie came along and offered up the same argument used by the giant international beverage corporations to oppose a soda tax, Kenney only had to fight "corporate interests" which were vulnerable because soda is unhealthy and those corporations are making money making people unhealthy.

Now Kenney has to fight a theoretical economic argument that looks something like "those poor folks are the ones who drink poison A soda the most so we shouldn't tax poison A soda because that would be a regressive tax."

All because Bernie offers up simplistic ideas just as Donald does.

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