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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Here We Call It A Pop Tax, Ya Jagoffs

I am no picture of perfect health. I weigh more than I should. I do not get enough exercise. I do not get enough sleep at night. I am your typical office worker and your typical out of shape American. But, I am also a pseudo Pittsburgher. That could be a bad label. Look, I was born in Southwestern Pennsylvania, grew up to bleed black and gold and even liked the Pirates until the mid 90s. I went to school at the cities namesake University and still love the area and would love to have more interaction with the burgh. But, I do not live or work in Allegheny County. That’s why I call myself pseudo Pittsburgher. So, even though my zip doesn’t run through the streets of The Golden Triangle I feel as much connection to the city as the next Yinzer.

That is why I am so utterly peeved that the mayor is trying to implement the soda tax. First off, it’s pop, you jagoff. The only soda around here comes with the either the word ‘club’ in front of it or ‘bread’ behind it. Secondly, how bad is that budget if you have to come at us from all sides? A few years ago you instituted a drink tax, or should I say Dan Onorato did and you know he’s keeping his mouth shut right now because he’s running for governor. That was supposed to help the Port Authority System by adding 10% tax to alcoholic beverages sold in Allegheny County. The argument was either this tax or raised property taxes.

The bitterness of this tax has been stuck in the craw of Burghers for a few years now and then when the mayor tried to redirect some of the overflowing funds, collected from said tax, towards the city’s pension fund which is anemic at best. But he was given the dolphin on that one and after roughing it out at Seven Springs during Snowmageddon he came up with a new plan. Well, I should say he “borrowed” a plan from the mayor of Philadelphia. Listen, if you want to start looking at other cities for best practices on how to run yours I’m all for it, but Philadelphia? This is a town that should consider changing its motto to “Philadelphia: Come for the crack!” The one in the liberty bell? Nevermind.

So, here’s how, I imagine, the meeting went down. The mayor is sitting there fragging his frat buddies in a Halo 3 deathmatch and after his ninth Diet Pepsi he has the greatest idea. “How about a soda tax to help the pension fund?” As everyone around the room sat there and wondered what the hell a soda was he clarified. “You know, sugar in pop? High Fructose Corn Syrup? The stuff that makes you fat…” as he chugs his 10th or 11th Diet Pepsi. Let’s add a tax on the sale of sugary drinks and reap the benefits.

“But why?” One of the meeting attendees asked. The mayor grabbed his nerf basketball and made jump shots into the waste basket with the little suction cup net above it. “Because the city is fat. Too fat. I’ve got three city projects going on to fill the potholes from the snow we had and I suspect that the fat people contributed to the holes as much as the snow. Also, I know I told everyone I couldn’t enjoy going to Steelers games because of the press but really it was just that I kept getting elbowed by fat people next to me. Maybe if we tax the hell out of sugary drinks we can get some of them to lose weight.” The idea of the soda tax is to collect the revenue on sugary drinks at $0.02 an ounce and then use the funds to bail out the pension fund. But it’s in our own best interest to lose the weight, right?

No, it’s not. Look, if you propose a tax, a sin tax, as it were to curb sinful or risk behavior, how do call it successful? Does everyone stop drinking sugary drinks or do you have a fully funded pension plan. I don’t think we even need to vote for the right answer to that one. Now, it’s not that I have a problem with a sin tax per se. I am not a smoker and when the whole smoking ban and higher taxes on cigarettes happened I didn’t care. Sorry. I didn’t. But I also don’t drink regular pop or soda, in this case. Yes, my body is saccharine. According to a friend, the saccharine in my Diet Pepsi is turning to plastic and binding to my nerves and will never leave my body. If that’s true I should look like Heidi Montag in a coupld of years. And yes, studies show that drinking diet sodas are more harmful because of the emptiness you feel, prompting you to eat more. And the rationalization of “Hey, I’m drinking diet. I can drink as many as I want” is questionable. To that I also admit I do drink 64 ounces of water a day, but that’s just for the Prozac and Viagara added in at the treatment plant.

My big issue here is when government, local or federal, institutes some tax that is supposed to be health conscious and all it really does is get more money to pay off something that shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place. Here’s my suggestions on the whole scenario.

If you think that we, as consenting adults, cannot make healthy decisions about diet or any other thing that someone considers bad for us, then make it go away. Cigarettes. Take them out of the store. Beer. Get rid of it. Jolt Cola and Sugar Shock Soda and Five Hour Makes-Me-Fart-But-I’m-Awake-To-Hear-It-At-2:30-In-The-Afternoon Energy Drinks. Shit can them. If you truly think we need outlet covers plugged into the receptacles of vice in our lives then treat us like infants and put the good stuff on higher shelves.


Balance Your ‘Effing Budget Better.

Which sounds like a better idea? I’ll take a seat right here and call Dominoes for a Big Ass Pie, two liter of Mountain Dew Code Red, and a pack of unfiltered Marlboro Reds while you to think about it. Jagoffs.

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