Fat Tax: The Socio-Economics of Obesity

Throughout most of human history being overweight was a sign of wealth. beauty, and even good health. The robust and jolly outwardly displayed their access to a wide variety of food and plenty of it. In fact many cultures still today hold that obesity is desirable, rather than unhealthy or grotesque as we have come to view it in modern western society in the last century.

So why this shift in thinking? Well, we are told now it's not healthy to be plump. Thanks to decades of media manipulation and the opinions of so-called experts, even in trusted positions of government, we as a society have come to accept a number of erroneous conclusions about obesity and public health. False conclusions which are actually highly profitable to any company associated with our healthcare industry or any of the industries involved in anything we eat. From the fertilizer companies to the grocery stores, the pharmaceutical companies to the insurance conglomerates. A huge portion of our economy operates and is stimulated by this big lie that is literally killing us.

We mistakenly accept that obesity is a cause of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a wide variety of other health afflictions. We have also jump to the erroneous conclusion that people who are overweight are lazy, degenerate, mentally unsound, and ultimately a financial threat to our own well-being because of the public costs associated with healthcare. We postulate that the overweight are collectively responsible for this plague, rather than victims of it. Even we who are overweight, find ourselves in an impossible situation we don't fully understand but which tends to fill us with anger and self-loathing, rather than addressing the actual causes of obesity.

I have made a study of these issues myself over the years, and for a few brief moments I saw a glimmer of hope that the-powers-that-be were finally ready to acknowledge true causes of obesity and affiliated health concerns when I read these few headlines...
Imagine my disappointment when I realized that headlines like these were nothing more than propaganda as usual, controlled opposition, put out there to set the stage in order to rip off the public financially, yet again, through taxation in a typical problem-reaction-solution scheme. Another shove against the goalposts encroaching personal freedom, and another way to scam us out of a buck. One week the media is telling us that obesity has nothing to do with personal choice, and then in the next week they are broadcasting proposals for steep penalties on personal choice. Their "solution" is to impose a fine on individuals who purchase foods classified as unhealthy by whatever committee is thrown together to act in the interests of government and corporate profiteering. 
I have a better idea. Let us levy fines against the corporations who are pumping unhealthy, even deadly franken-foods at us relentlessly through clever advertising, manipulation of the media, economic pressure, government payoffs, and leaving us with a total lack of real choice. Obesity is not the cause of our ill-health, it is just another symptom of it. The things that are being done to our food is what is causing most obesity, organ damage, etc. The fat itself is not the problem.

As pointed out already, obesity has never been associated with ill-health, just the opposite actually. Today there are plenty of people suffering diseases which are commonly associated with obesity, yet they are not fat themselves. Even scientists have been so indoctrinated by the brainwashing telling us obesity is the cause of health problems, that they are confounded when their own studies show that one can be obese and perfectly healthy. Discriminating against fat people is as ignorant as poking fun at cancer patients, a limbless war veteran, or saying that blacks are a liability to the healthcare system because of sickle-cell anemia. Obesity might be a sign that someone is having health problems, but it is not the cause of those problems. A fat tax completely misses the point.

Let's imagine for a second that our food supply is like a town's water supply. Now lets imagine that all of the chemicals and treatments and genetic modifications being done to our food supply, are like bacteria in our water making everyone sick, even killing people. The source of the bacteria is a new condo community who decided to start dumping raw sewage into the reservoir, rather than pay for proper processing. What do we do to solve the problem? Do we impose fines against the townspeople down below who turn on the tap? Do we penalize someone who got sick from drinking poisoned water? Certainly not, because that does not address the source of the problem. Instead we would levy fines against the condo community. Fines that are more costly than what they have been saving by dumping their waste in the reservoir.

That is what must be done here. The profit motive for corporations (and the government by proxy) to pump us full of chemicals and ruin our food must be removed, so that they start growing and distributing food of a quality we still had as little as fifty or sixty years ago. To deliver food that is actually food, not a simulated food-like product with addictive qualities, toxic ingredients, and stripped of nutrients. A tax on these foods only creates a financial incentive for the government to support unhealthy foods, not protect us from them.

A retail tax on certain foods would actually increase obesity and sickness very quickly which, some conspiracy-theorists might say, is actually the plan of the puppet-masters. To simply kill off certain segments of society, namely the poor and disenfranchised. It's frightening to think that such a theory actually has some merit too, considering this is actually what is happening already, even if not specifically planned that way by cabals of corporate overlords. The sad fact of the matter is that those in poverty run the highest rates of obesity and ill health. That is not because the poor are lazy either. If that were true, then we must also assume that our pets have all decided to become lazy as well. No, the simple truth is that our food is being poisoned. So many Americans, especially the poor, do not have access to healthy, completely organic foods. Which does of course have an impact on health, and which will make a less and less viable candidate for whatever jobs might be available in the long run, so an and so forth. The poorer you are, the greater your risk. A fat tax just makes people poorer.

Ask yourself, what you would prefer for dinner tonight. A bologna sandwich, or a steak? A pack of ramen, or a nice stir-fry with crisp, fresh vegetables and strips of lean meat? Poor or not, you probably picked the more nutritious, more expensive meal. The truth is that most people would prefer to eat healthier in general, but many simply cannot afford to. That is not a matter of personal choice. Granted, any of us might get a hankerin' for a Big Mac once in a while, but I can tell you from personal experience that surviving on the McDollar menu for any length of time will leave you with a feeling that you would prefer to never eat fast food again all the rest of your days. This is not to say either, that we should suddenly ban fast food joints, or Coca-Cola, or Doritos. We should maintain the right to eat whatever we want, even if it kills us. But there is a better solution anyway, an actual solution, to this health crisis.

The answer is not to make the (regrettably) most affordable foods less affordable to folks who are already having trouble paying for groceries. The answer is to make healthier foods more affordable and accessible to everybody. The fat tax creates financial incentive to block that access. Keep in mind here too, that we aren't just talking about folks on food stamps and in downright poverty either, but average middle class families who have had to cut corners in every facet of the household budget. Friday night pizza night has shifted from a few takeout pies, made fresh with whole natural ingredients at their local pizza shop, to heavily processed frozen pizzas from Wal-Mart. Now some might say that pizza in general is bad for you anyway, but that is not entirely accurate. It is the processed, refined, modified, hydrogenated pizza-ish product in a box that is unhealthy. A fresh pizza made with genetically unaltered semolina wheat, olive oil, fresh tomato sauce, fresh toppings, and fresh cheese is actually a quite healthy dish.

Which now bring us to the question of how the tax-man is actually going to decide which foods are healthy or not. What foods will this 20% tax be applied to? Butter perhaps? Surely the bacon will get whacked with the tax. So if we don't want to hand over one-fifth of our breakfast money to the cafeteria bully, I guess we will have to eat Quaker 100% Natural Granola, Oats, Honey n' Raisins. That was sarcasm actually, click those links and you'll see what I mean. We are lied to so often by "health officials," the media and so forth, that it's hard for anyone to actually know what we are actually supposed to be eating. This is one big reason the government cannot regulate what food can or cannot be purchased with food stamp benefits (.pdf), despite much public outrage over the years about how those benefits are spent.

Here we can also point out the fact that in many states things like soda-pop are already taxed, and require a nickel deposit per container. So we can foresee the failure of a proposed tax on a wider selection of foods labeled as "unhealthy" since the current tax is already proved to be no deterrent. Even if the government were to impose a 100% tax on things like a 99-cent gallon of store-brand fruit-punch flavored high fructose corn syrup, it will still be cheaper than a $6 gallon of orange juice, that may not actually be any healthier anyway.

So the fat tax still doesn't create any substantive incentive to eat healthy, it's just another government rip-off. And here's the real kicker. Those most at risk of obesity are immune from food tax. Even if the fat tax idea passes, the only people who are going to be affected by it are the middle class, and people on the verge of winding up on food stamps. Such a tax might even be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back, and finally shoves a person or a family into poverty as they see 20% of their grocery budget swept away into the pocket of the tax man. Meanwhile, the folks who have already slipped below the poverty line, the ones we know are most at risk for obesity, are tax-exempt when they swipe their EBT card. So best case scenario is that this big plan to tax people into better health, will still completely pass by the people who need better food the most. Not to mention that it will actually encourage people on food stamps to use those benefits for junk food, or even to become exploited in fraud where they purchase these items for other people in exchange for cash. The higher the tax rate, the more profitable such fraud would become. So some might say we must remove the tax exemption, but all that would do is again, remove 20% of the grocery budget for people already on the edge of starvation, and force taxpayers to pay poor people's taxes. Basically it would be a double-tax on the working stiff for an idea that will never achieve its stated goal of encouraging people eat foods that are deemed to be more healthy. 

Which now brings us to another startling point. Studies show that people have already made a conscious effort to move away from fatty, sugary, and salty foods toward what were are told is a more healthy diet, to no avail. We are already eating more of what they tell us to eat to be healthy, yet we are still getting fatter and sicker by the year. The only conclusion that can be drawn there is that we are being lied to, suffering terrible health consequences as a result, and then being blamed for those consequences.

This graph is from a UK study, but is comparable to the US considering that we share very similar lifestyles, and is also relevant considering that these health concerns are now a global issue:

So we can see here a moderate decrease in vegetable purchases, but hardly enough to cause an epidemic of obesity and non-communicable disease. Especially considering an offset with a dramatic increase of fruits, which are often touted as the wonder drug for anti-obesity. Then too, especially considering the graph on the right, which shows a severe downturn in sugar, a significant downturn in fat, and a moderate downturn in salt. From those figures we might conclude that obesity is a actually a result of trying to eat more healthy. That theory is not quite in keeping with the data either though, considering that the obesity epidemic didn't starts until the 1980's but the food-type trend began in the 1940's. Either way, it seems logical to conclude from that data that obesity has some other cause than the types of food we are eating.

Prevalence of Obesity
What changed in our food supply in the 1980's? That is when genetic modification of food began. That is also the same time that other industrial processes to our food such as irradiation became regular practice. Processed foods are the culprit behind our health woes. Processes which start right in the seed, which has had it's DNA altered. Processes which start in meat from animals that have been treated with growth hormones. If we are all eating foods that have been treated in a way to grow larger and faster, doesn't it stand to reason that by ingesting such foods we too would begin to take on those characteristics, of growing larger at a pace we could never possibly keep up with through normal exercise and activity?

Will this proposed "fat tax" be imposed on all processed foods, or selectively against whatever foods the government chooses? Considering that roughly 90% of key crops such as corn and soy are genetically modified, and that those crops are in turn used in so very many other products, any shopper is already hard-pressed to find completely natural and organic foods. Especially considering that GM foods don't have to be labeled, and that the whole "organic" labeling trend is more of a public relations stunt than a mark of true organic foods. Even something as simple as beef, straight from the butcher's block at your local supermarket, is processed food. It is fed genetically modified grain, pumped full of steroids and growth hormones to bring it to market faster, and then after slaughter the meat is exposed to another whole series of industrial chemical processes.

There is so much more information out there about obesity and what is being done to our food supply, but given the information shared here we can conclude that a consumer "fat tax" on any foods is, at best, ineffective in combating our public health crisis. Our government has already shown negligence in failing to protect the consumer from the corporate predators, despite the billions of dollars we already pay in taxes for regulatory agencies such as the FDA and the EPA. For the government to become openly complicit and turn a direct profit from the killing of citizens, well that would be a high crime on a level the world has rarely seen from the most tyrannical regimes throughout history.

Also see:

Codex Alimentarius and 'Soft Kill' Eugenics

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