Friday, September 19, 2014

Berkeley, California: Ground Zero in the Soda Wars

Here's more proof Robert Reich thinks he is better at running your life than you are, and he wants to tax you for behaving differently than the way he would like. He writes:
Fifty years ago this month, Berkeley was the epicenter of the Free Speech Movement. Now, Berkeley is moving against Big Soda.

The new movement isn’t nearly dramatic or idealistic as the old one, but the odds of victory were probably better fifty years ago. The Free Speech Movement didn’t challenge the profitability of a one of the nation’s most powerful industries.

Sugary drinks are blamed for increasing the rates of chronic disease and obesity in America. Yet efforts to reduce their consumption through taxes or other measures have gone nowhere. The beverage industry has spent millions defeating them.

If on November 4 a majority of Berkeley voters say yes to a one-cent-per-fluid-ounce tax on distributors of sugary drinks, Berkeley could be the first city in the nation to pass a soda tax. (San Franciscans will be voting on a 2-cent per ounce proposal requiring two-thirds of them approve; Berkeley needs a mere majority.)

But if a soda tax can’t pass in the most progressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere. Big Soda knows that, which is why it’s determined to kill it here...
 Berkeley’s Soda War pits a group of community organizations, city and school district officials, and other individuals (full disclosure: I’m one of them) against Big Soda’s own “grassroots” group, describing itself as “a coalition of citizens, local businesses, and community organizations” without identifying its members.


  1. Chicago taxed soft drinks before it was cool. So did the State of Illinois. Looking around it doesn't seem to have lessened the increase in obesity rates one bit. But of course that just means the tax isn't high enough. :)

  2. RW, don't know if you saw this or not; Schiff vs Wiesenthal from last week: