Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s proposal to slap a new tax on sugary drinks to promote good public health has irked at least one of the city’s restaurant owners. It should be angering even more Seattle business owners and residents, though not for the obvious reasons.
The mayor’s crusade exposes real inconsistencies and skewed priorities in the city’s approach to critical public health issues. Spoiler alert: Seattle is moving toward subsidizing and enable the use of destructive, addictive, and life-threatening illegal drugs such as heroin with so-called safe injection sites. I’ll get to that a little further down the page, but first…
The city’s lack of response to one White Center restaurant owner’s concerns about Murray’s proposed tax on soda pop prompted a protest of sorts.
Ryan Hopkins, owner of Burger Boss Drive-In, is using his roadside sign to let people know how the proposed tax would affect his customers, and how he feels about it. According to KING-TV:
It’s been pretty quiet around Seattle since Mayor Ed Murray proposed a tax on soda and other sugary drinks, but one small business owner is firing back.
Ryan Hopkins owns Burger Boss Drive-in and said he recently learned that the mayor’s idea could force him to raise prices on his large soda to more than $5.
He called City Hall, and when he didn’t get a response, he posted an eye-catching message outside his restaurant to get some attention.
The sign says “HEY MR MAYOR $5 SODAS? UR POP TAX SUCKS!”
Hopkins says he’s contacted the mayor in hopes of having a conversation but has yet to receive a response.
The initial outline for Murray’s soda tax proposed adding 2 cents per ounce for sugary beverages, though the details will not be disclosed until legislation is presented to the City Council. Why does Murray believe the new social engineering tax is necessary? Why, public health, of course. From The Seattle Times:
Murray has given two reasons for the tax on sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweetened teas and more: improve health by reducing consumption of sugary drinks, and fund education programs aimed at improving the graduation rate of minority youth.
The mayor even compared sugary drinks to tobacco, saying “sugar is as bad as cigarettes in how we consume it,” on The Seattle Times’ politics podcast.
Let’s assume that Murray is right about the dire risk from drinking soda pop. Wouldn’t a safe soda consumption center be more consistent with the current dogma that pervades Seattle’s public health infrastructure? Those seeking the fizzy giddy rush of a cola would enter a community facility, guzzle their syrupy beverages in a supervised and non-judgmental environment, and then be sent on their merry way.
Of course, this is an absurd idea and not only because if a safe soda site was as “effective” in affecting health outcomes as Vancouver, B.C.’s safe injection site, Seattle would need to brace for a diabetes explosion.
No, the irony here is obvious: If drinking soda is bad enough that the city has to impose negative incentives to curb its use, is heroin – an illegal substance to begin with – less bad? Obviously, it is not less bad; it is much, much worse.
Nevertheless, Seattle’s leaders, elected by Seattle’s citizens, may this year choose to subsidize one activity that 100% of health experts agree poses lethal risk while punishing another behavior that is relatively benign by comparison. I feel safe in assuming that the risk of death by overdose after drinking a 64-ounce cola is as close to zero as actuaries can ever be comfortable stating.
Maybe this ideologically pure but logically backward way of thinking is one reason why Snohomish and Pierce Counties are leading the nation in net migration while Seattle-dominated King County lags.
[Featured image credit: Adobe Stock]