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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Mises Predicted the “Meat Tax” | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 22, 2018

In fact, this is recognized by the lead researcher on the study, Dr. Marco Springmann, who concedes “Nobody wants governments to tell people what they can and can’t eat.” However, in an egregious example of Orwellian doublespeak, Springmann portrays government tyrannizing over and curtailing consumer choice as really facilitating and expanding choice:

https://mises.org/wire/mises-predicted-meat-tax

Last week, a team of researchers under the auspices of the Nuffield Department of Population Health (NDPH) at Oxford University published an article in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE. The article purports to calculate “economically optimal tax levels for 149 world regions that would account for (internalize) the health costs associated with ill-health from red and processed meat consumption.” The article estimates “the taxes on red and processed meats necessary to offset the health care costs of consuming such products.” NPDH, by the way, is a highly politicized academic department which was created in 2013 and lobbied for a sugar tax for Great Britain in 2016, which was imposed on the hapless British public this past April.

The authors of the article argue that processed and red meats are “carcinogenic” and “probably carcinogenic,” respectively, because they have been classified as such by the World Health Organization. In addition, consumption of red meat is “associated” with other conditions such as increased rates of coronary heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. In the case of Great Britain, for example, meat consumption accounts for more than 60,000 deaths per year. Deriving statistical estimates of the elasticities of demand for red and processed meats, the article calculates the optimal tax rate, defined as the rate that would raise the price for one serving of red and processed meat to the level that “reflects the health costs associated with one additional serving of red and processed meat.” An article in a British newspaper summarizing the research reports that, for Great Britain, “optimal” tax rates are estimated as 14% and 79% for red meat and processed meat, respectively. At these rates, taxes would almost double the price of a package of sausages from £2.50 to £4.47 and drive up the price of a fillet of steak from £5.50 to £6.27. The implementation of these taxes, it is predicted, “would prevent the deaths of nearly 6,000 people each year and save the NHS [National Health Service] nearly £1 billion annually.”…

In fact, this is recognized by the lead researcher on the study, Dr. Marco Springmann, who concedes “Nobody wants governments to tell people what they can and can’t eat.” However, in an egregious example of Orwellian doublespeak, Springmann portrays government tyrannizing over and curtailing consumer choice as really facilitating and expanding choice:

I hope that governments will consider introducing a health levy on red and processed meat as part of a range of measures to make healthy and sustainable decision-making easier for consumers . A health levy on red and processed meat would not limit choices, but send a powerful signal to consumers and take pressure off our healthcare systems.” [Emphases added]

The Chair of the National Obesity Forum , Tam Fry, uses the same rhetorical trickery, redefining “real choice” as consumers submissively permitting their behavior to be molded by intellectual and political elites whose goals and preferences are enforced by coercive tax levies:

When the sugar levy was first announced people sucked their teeth and argued it was an infringement of their human rights. But as the noise died down people began to realise that they had a real choice and that switching to something more healthy was a good thing. I see no reason why if sensibly introduced the same thing can’t work with meat. [Emphasis added]

In his great book Liberalism , originally published in German over 90 years ago, Ludwig von Mises, foresaw that once the principle was accepted that it is a proper function of government to protect individuals from the harmful effects of their own choices, there would be no area of consumption that would be off limits to government interference. As Mises argued, the assumptions underlying the case for restricting narcotic drugs imply that governmental control of individual consumption knows no natural limit. For Mises (p. 52), unbridled prohibitionism is simply the other side of the coin of submitting to politicians as the judges and guardians of individual welfare:…

Be seeing you

obey

 

 

 

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