Sin Tax/Junk Food Tax Group Debate


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3 person team not including captain. 1st round for listing of teammates only. Create argument via PM and forum.
Definition of Junk Food:
Anything with high calories, and little nutritional value.
In other words
-Sugary Beverages
Fast food will not be included in this debate.
Round 1
Virtuoso, bedrocks, Ramshutu, and me as captain.
Round 2
Thanks to Alec and his team for accepting this debate

RESOLVED  “The United States Federal Government should implement a National Junk Food Tax.”


Burdens: For the purposes of this debate, we share equal burdens of proof.  

Interpreting the Resolution PRO must demonstrate that a National Junk Food Tax offers a practical means for improving American diets while offsetting the economic costs of obesity.
If CON can demonstrate the impracticability  of PRO’s plan and/or offer superior alternatives, then CON wins.

A National Junk Food Tax is impractical for a number of reasons:

  1. There is no Federal Food Tax at present.  Presently in the US, any sales tax on food is applied at the state and local levels of government.  A new, overarching Federal tax would infringe on traditional Federal jurisdictions and represent a kind of double or even triple jeopardy for food manufacturers and food consumers.
  2. The true economic costs of obesity are impossible to calculate. - hThe private marginal costs of obesity not quantifiable.
      1. “Little evidence exists as to whether obese individuals impose an externality on the non-obese through private health insurance…
      2. “Few studies have estimated the marginal impact of an increase in BMI or body weight on medical care costs.””
  3. It doesn’t work
"The bottom line is that the tax isn't going to make anybody healthier, it's not going to make a dent in a problem as complex and serious as obesity, and we're certainly not going to solve the complexities of the health -care system with a tax on soda pop." Kevin W. Keane a worker at the American Beverage Association says
A study from Cornell university, found that in Berkeley the cities obesity rates didn’t lower as much as people thought. So if you are thinking about a massive curb in obesity, it won’t happen. It’s bad for economy too. The potato chip industry is worth 26 billion dollars and the candy industry is worth 79 billion dollars, so how much do you think the junk food industry is worth? You are putting a industry worth billions at risk just for a tax that won’t work and people hate. A junk food tax in Hungary was released in 2011, it only lowered the consuming of junk food products by 3.4%, and the raised the consuming of healthy products by 1.1% also thus proving that it won’t curb obesity that much.

  1. Unfair implementation
    1. Junk Food is not the only cause for obesity.
      1. Therefore a tax on junk food manufacturers and/or consumers either has no hope of covering the external costs of obesity, 

      1. Junk food manufacturers and/or consumers are unfairly burdened with taxes to cover costs over which their activity has no influence.
        1. For example, cheese is just as high in calories and just as devoid of nutrition as potato chips but Frito-Lay and potato chip eaters would be asked to bear the obesity costs of cheese eaters or else the tax would fail to cover the external costs of cheese-caused obesity.
        2. For another example,the physical inactivity associated with  television viewing and computer game playing have been shown to contribute to obesity to a very important degree, but television and video game manufacturers/consumers are not being asked to share in the public costs of obesity.

      1. Since not all obesity contributors are distributably  taxed, any reductions in obesity (and therefore increases in longevity) brought about by a junk food tax increase the social costs not compensated for.
        1. For example, Frito-Lay’s tax burden is increased because less obese people live a little longer and so buy more potato chips but longer lived people are also watching more television without a compensatory tax.  Meanwhile, the public savings in terms of pensions and healthcare by shorter-lived obese persons are seldom calculated.
      2. Untaxed factors contributing to obesity include (but are not limited to):
  1. Overeating. 
          1. One could overeat very healthy foods and still be obese
        1. Medications
          1. Steroids, birth control pills, and antidepressants lead to obesity.
        1. Medical Conditions
          1. There are many medical conditions which lead to obesity including
  • PCOS
  • Prader Willi-Syndrome
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cushing Syndrome
“People and families may make decisions based on their environment or community. For example, a person may choose not to walk or bike to the store or to work because of a lack of sidewalks or safe bike trails. Community, home, child care, school, health care, and workplace settings can all influence people’s daily behaviors.” says the CDC or the Center of Disease Control and Prevention
    1. Since lower income consumers of junk food would end up paying the same tax rate as higher income consumers, poorer junk food consumers would suffer a greater negative impact than richer junk food consumers.The tax is regressive since consumers on lower incomes will be more negatively impacted by higher prices than consumers on higher incomes. This will result in many negative consequences, not just because of unfair taxing, but because of what the tax does to affect. Starvation, poverty, and other illnesses, that we don’t need.

    1. Because of the oversized political influence of lobbyists in Washington, DC, corrupt imbalances in the implementation of taxation is highly likely.  
      1. For example, Cook County’s abortive effort to add a 1 cent per fl. Oz tax in 2017 did tax non-fattening zero calorie sodas but failed to tax (due to successful lobbying efforts) sugary fruit drinks, arguably the most fattening of all drink options.
  1. Besides, the US Federal Government is presently subsidizing many of the most important ingredients found in junk food
“From 1995 to 2010, the  government spent $170 billion in agricultural subsidies to produce ingredients that make junk food cheap and plentiful. These crops and farm foods— corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, sorghum, milk and meat— aren’t inherently unhealthy, but many are turned into inexpensive additives like corn sweeteners, industrial oils, processed meats and refined carbohydrates.”
While a penny per ounce junk food tax (including soda tax) is predicted to generate $118 billion over a period of five years.

C1: For us to see a substantial decrease in obesity, the tax would need to be onerous

Sin taxes are a difficult-to-implement policy primarily due to the risk of setting the tax too high or too low. For fat taxes, there would be no option besides setting the tax egregiously high. Simply put, in the fast-food addicted culture of the US, any increase in price would have to be visible to consumers for a change in behavior to result. Consumers will fail to observe a miniscule increase in price by a matter of cents. Oliver Mytton of the British Heart Foundation’s Health Promotion Research Group concluded that fat taxes need to be set at 20% to see substantial decreases in obesity (1). 

As one could imagine, the most integral part of the Pro plan needs to be the actual percentage at which unhealthy consumer products are taxed. By ignoring this detail, we repeat past mistakes made by other countries. Denmark learned this when it attempted to implement a fat tax in October 2011, only for it the be revoked a year later after the goal of decrease saturated fats was not met (2). In addition, the Danish tax manifested a litany of economic maladies for the country. While there was a slight change in behavior associated with the tax, (likely due to its publicity alerting consumers to the increased prices,) it was undermined by Danes buying food from bordering nations or just buying cheaper junk food. An estimated 80% of Danish consumers did not change their purchasing habits on account of the tax. So, with consumers buying their food elsewhere or for cheaper and starving, (pardon the pun) the Danish companies of profit, jobs fell in droves. The Institute of Economic Affairs noted that the fat tax led to over 1,000 job losses and a .8% reduction in real wages on account of less consumer spending necessitating layoffs in industries relying on unhealthy, cheap food. These industries in the US are a source of livelihood for the destitute.

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--> @Alec
I would like opening statements only.
--> @Club
Are rebuttals allowed in the first round?
bump sir
--> @Alec
The Economic Policy Institute estimates that over 16% of employees in the food-service industry live below the poverty line (3). In contrast, the poverty rate for employees not in the restaurant industry is 6% (3). By imposing a price increase, those that do respond to the tax will purchase cheap food, not the premade meals made at Duffy’s, McDonald’s etc. Company profits will decline and wages would stagnate. Lay-offs would increase in droves.
I missed a small part there to get rid of some of the words for the word limit.
--> @RationalMadman, @bmdrocks21
Yes we are, I know it seems long, but group debates are very tedious as more work is added every day, until you have a long sufficient argument. Also, BUMP.
--> @WaterPhoenix
--> @Club
Do you debate anything besides junk food tax
Club are you even writing any of it? How about you Dr. Franklin?
I think side-Con will win but this is going to be very close. I realise that Ramshutu is on the side of popular opinion, he is going to smear campaign very effectively in the Round(s) he writes and Alec is very good at this too.
Oromagi and Ragnar build cases well but Ragnar builds offensively with defence being the 'guide' while Oromagi builds defensively with creative offence being his 'guide'.
The sides are flipped, this confused me... Why would... Interesting. I wonder if Ramshutu and bmdrocks work well together and if Oromagi and Ragnar work well together. Synergy in thinking styles will be important.
--> @Club
Are your teammates all making their arguments? Also, bump!
--> @Ragnar
--> @Club
Why do you bump this so often?
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