Government Shouldn't Moralize About Our Food

Leave that to the private marketplace
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2010 1:08 PM CDT
Government Shouldn't Moralize About Our Food
Lawmakers across the country are proposing taxes on sodas. Taxation is fine, but let's stop the official moralizing.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Newser) – The government has a wide range of choices when it comes to encouraging public health, from hands-off (the preference of libertarians) to so-called sin taxes to outright bans on, say, junk food in schools. Here's one option they need to stop: paying for ad campaigns that vilify certain foods, writes Harvard economics professor Edward L. Glaeser in the Boston Globe. "In a sense, these public announcements are just revenue-less taxes."

They "operate by increasing the cost of having a Coke or a smoke—the fact that the higher cost is psychological rather than financial is purely accidental—and they don’t raise any money." Let private entities do the demonizing, as the American Lung Association did to Big Tobacco. "That’s how the marketplace for ideas should work. But we are better served by a government that keeps to taxation rather than vilification." (Read more public health stories.)

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