ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK
Editorial in Daily Camera HERE
"Boulder should lead on sugary drinks"
"Sugar, rum, and tobacco are commodities which are nowhere necessaries of life, which are become objects of almost universal consumption, and which are therefore extremely proper subjects of taxation."
—Adam Smith, "The Wealth of Nations," 1776
We borrow the entry quote to today's editorial not only from Adam Smith's seminal economic treatise, but from a 2009 article in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled, "Ounces of Prevention - The Public Policy Case for Taxes on Sugared Beverages."
Adam Smith, of course, was the original free-market economist, the man who coined the expression "Invisible Hand" for the free-market forces created by the individual pursuit of self-interest. It is ironic, therefore, and possibly the latest indictment of our education system, that alleged conservatives today condemn the proposed excise tax on sugary drinks in Boulder as an improper intrusion by government on free choice.
Interesting editorial and link to Adam Smith on taxing sugary drinks.
It is spoiled by linking Adam Smith to a modern version of him ‘coining the expression’ of the ‘invisible hand’. He didn’t, of course. ‘coin’ the metaphor of an “invisble hand’. That metaphor/expression has a much longer history than Smith’s lifetime (for instance, such as by William Shakespeare in MacBeth, and scores of theological instances).
Moreover, individual self-interest could also create import prohibitions, and/or high tariffs, curbing “free-market forces”. Smith’s use more nuanced than the Daily Camera appears to realise - and Adam Smith said so in Wealth of Nations many times.
But congratulations to the Daily Camera editorial for drawing attention to the pontentional taxability of sugary drinks, as a health measure.