Tuesday, April 11, 2017

5 Surprisingly Solvable Problems (America Can't Figure Out)

5 Surprisingly Solvable Problems (America Can't Figure Out)

Another one they missed:

Scandinavia has one thing exactly right - tax the daylights out of things that are bad for you.

Salty and sugary snacks, cigarettes, alcohol ... Norway taxes the living fuck out of these things. This has the double advantage of reducing consumption (thus making people healthier) and self-funding the health care system. Moveover it is completely fair, because in essence it makes the people who use those products pay for their own health care instead of making me pay for them to abuse their bodies. In other words, it is not socialized medicine, but actually the exact OPPOSITE of socialized medicine - it makes people pay for their own actions.

And here's the good news - although consumption does go down, producer and retailer profits do not. The cigarette and alcohol manufacturers lose something like 30% of their business, but they make up for it by making far more profit per pack. Reason: if you raise the price of a bottle of Johnny Walker by a dollar on $28, people notice, but if you raise it by a dollar on $88, nobody even knows the difference. And if you can afford $88 for a fifth of booze, let's face it, you already have too much money and don't give a crap about another dollar.

Placing high taxes on junk foods also almost completely eliminates the justification for and abuse of food stamps, because even the poor can afford a dozen untaxed eggs, chicken or ground beef, but the poor simply can't afford over-taxed potato chips and snacks, so people eat better and their money goes farther. Here in the USA we have two problems: (1) crappy food is cheap; (2) food stamps can be used to pay for crappy food. As a result the perfectly good intention of the government to provide food stamps often gets gets abused because they can be used to buy products with a low cost, no nutritional value, and many health risks.

(And you would not believe the abuses I saw as a retailer on the food stamp program, all of which was perfectly legal! But that's an issue for another day.)

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