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Sneaker Tax Is Dumb Governing

02/11/2013
Photo Forbes.com

Photo Forbes.com

The big brains in government are up to all sorts of shenanigans these days.

This gem of brilliance comes from the great state of Illinois. The newly introduced bill, sponsored by Rep. Will Davis, would impose a 25-cent tax on the purchase of athletic shoes — described in the bill as any “shoe designed primarily for sports or other forms of physical activity.”…such as walking?

Davis hopes to allocate the tax’s proceeds to a fund supporting Illinois YouthBuild — a non-profit with 16 programs in the state that provide job training for disadvantaged youth.

Revenue linked to programs can make sense, though funding programs this way may not. Taxes on cigarettes and alcohol counter social and health costs. A soda tax generates revenue and allegedly reduces obesity. Apart from health concerns, soda taxes could generate billions.

Faced with budget deficits, an eroding tax base and the legal and political impediments to raising tax rates, soda is an easy target. Soda taxes are sin taxes, targeting what legislators view as socially irresponsible behavior. We already tax alcohol, cigarettes and candy. Such taxes have the dual purpose of raising revenue and decreasing the targeted conduct.

So if I connect the dots here – will a sneaker tax reduce fitness activities and sports participation?

Why not? Taxing my soda makes me want to drink less soda, right?

In age where obesity is a serious problem among America’s youth…do we really want to create a disincentive for physical activity by taxing sneakers?

According to the Center for Disease Control:

  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years
  • The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2010. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period
  • In 2010, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese

Against these statistics does Davis really want to fund a jobs program on the ever-growing backsides of America’s youth? I hope not.

Abraham Lincoln is likely spinning in his grave.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe Mangan permalink
    02/11/2013 11:38 am

    Good for you. Right on.

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