Danyl cracks up and talks to himself:
Left Wing Danyl: Corporations that sell high-fat and high sugar products are getting rich by selling people slow acting poisons. And they’re deliberately marketing these toxic food substitutes at children! Shouldn’t we at least pass laws to protect minors from these products? After all, we don’t let them buy cigerettes or alcohol.
Libertarian Danyl: Well that’s your answer to everything isn’t it? Just pass another law, take away a little bit more of our freedom, expand the power of the state. Charge people more taxes so you can furthur limit their choices. People should be free to eat whatever kind of food they want. We have enough problems with the nanny state in this country without politicians telling us what we can and can’t eat for dinner.
Economist Danyl: Hang on a minute there – I agree that people should be allowed to choose what foods to eat – but you have to admit that products like soft drinks and potato chips have massive negative externalities. They contribute to chronic illness like diabetes and heart disease and those have a cost to the public health system that other people end up paying for through their taxes.
Libertarian Danyl: Tax is theft!
Left Wing Danyl: Tax is the price you pay for living in a civilised society.
Libertarian Danyl: Civilised? Ha! To quote Ron Paul . . .
Moderate Danyl: Oh shut up, idiot. So Economist Danyl, are you saying there should be an excise on junk food?
Economist Danyl: Why not? That’s what we do with other products that have negative externalities, like tobacco and alcohol.
Left Wing Danyl: The problem there is that obesity is closely correlated with poverty. A tax on junk food would be a highly regressive tax.
Economist Danyl: Then poor people will act like rational maximisers and respond to the changing conditions of the market by switching to cheaper, healthier options.
Sarcastic Danyl: Right, the way they have with tobacco?
A really good post.