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A Sin Tax on Twinkies


A Sin Tax on Twinkies?

In my last two newsletters, I have written about the very harmful effects of obesity and how it is one of the main contributors of Heart Disease and Cancer.  Many of my readers have suggested that unhealthy foods such as fast foods and potato chips should be treated like alcohol and tobacco and have a sin tax levied against them.  In a perfect world, the extra taxes would be used for all the extra medical care incurred by all these unhealthy overweight people.

However, in a country such as ours, we all know what happens when we give the government extra money: they waste it.  Do you think that all the money collected from the sale of alcohol or tobacco is used to treat people who suffer from the myriad of diseases caused by these addictions? Have you ever seen a government sponsored treatment center for people addicted to tobacco?  Although there are a few alcohol treatment centers, they do not have enough capacity to treat even 5% of those addicted. Finally, with all the billions of dollars collected from gambling, there is not even one government-sponsored treatment center for this affliction in our country.  So what is the answer?

The solution would be to give a tax break to healthy people.  This month as you fill in your income tax, you are allowed a personal deduction and this deduction is approximately the same amount for any working Canadian, around $8000.  I am suggesting that after you have filled in the spaces with your name, address and social insurance number, there should be two more categories, smoker or non-smoker and your BMI (body mass index, which is your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared) If your BMI is 25 or lower, your deduction would go up to $9000 and if you are a non smoker, your personal deduction would increase to $10,000.  Your BMI would be certified by your family physician during your annual checkup, which would probably take place in April every year.  It would be a good idea to decrease your personal income tax deduction if your BMI was 25 to 30 and to  cut it in half if your BMI was over 40 but this would involve forcing people to go to their doctor and would be too heavy handed.  Lets not penalize the obese people, but reward the lean people.

Our governments keep telling us that billions and billions of dollars are required for our present health care and for the future of health care in our country.  We are constantly being threatened with a two-tiered health care system in which in the rich get to the front of the queue.  The really rich people never pay their fair share of income taxes in this country.  Belinda Stronach wanted to be our Prime Minister and even though her family has personal earnings of over 198 million dollars over the last ten years, then have not paid a dime in tax in Canada for these earnings because their legal residence is in Switzerland.  The tax burden always falls on the hard-working middle class family who at this time pays out 48% of its income in one form of tax or another.  In other words, the government takes one-half of everything you earn.  If you are a healthy person and are not a burden on the expensive health care system, the least they can do is give you a break on your income tax.

We live in a society of very self-indulgent people who must have everything they see including all the yummy food they can stuff into their bodies.  When these people start developing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer, we all have to pay for their medical care.  We are supposed to live in a society in which the more fortunate are supposed to pay a disproportionate amount of their taxes to help out the less fortunate.  However, if people choose to over-eat, smoke and generally let their bodies degenerate until they need extensive medical care, why should the rest of us pay for this self-indulgence?  If we try hard to maintain our bodies in a good state of health, we should be rewarded by the system.  If our governments would allow this to happen, an example would be set and most of society would be trying very hard to eat healthy, exercise and maintain a high level of good health because there would be a tax incentive to do this.

If you consider all the diseases that our society has to deal with that are not preventable, such as inherited diabetes, multiple sclerosis, all the congenital diseases of infants, and even arthritis, it boggles my mind that people will let themselves fall into such poor states of health.  On the other hand, because our bodies must have food, you could classify it as an addictive substance.  We all must eat to survive.  However, when you could care less about the junk you feed to your body and you consciously choose to eat foods that you know are bad for you when many healthy options are available and you allow your health to deteriorate to the point where severe medical intervention is required, should you be treated the same as someone who takes care of their body and keeps in a good healthy state?

I think not.  I simply believe that those of use who take good care and stay healthy should get a tax break from our legislators.

We have a federal election coming soon in this country.  Make your voice heard.  We will save the health care system by providing large tax incentives for people to stay healthy.  Tell your local politicians that if they want your vote, they must be willing to take a positive stand on this issue and make it happen.