Now, it is readily apparent to casual observers and inquiring scientists alike that America is seriously addicted to lifestyle choices that are both unhealthy and nationally dangerous: from the recent study that more than 40 percent of eligible youths are not sufficiently fit to serve in the military to the still unexplained epidemic of diabetes, particularly among the young. The food industry has fought to avoid any government research into the effects of corn syrup, used as a substitute for sugars of the traditional sort. The use of this sweetener in every imaginable food product, from soft drinks and the new “energy” beverages, to baked gods and canned goods, is aggravated by the super-hype advertising for junk foods in general and sweets in particular.
In recent years it has become big business to sell bottled water, in reaction to tests showing that most municipal water is polluted at best and potentially toxic over long use at worst. Rather than working to improve the purity of tap water, America has opted to create another high-profit private industry based on the failure of society to provide a safe water supply. We shun public transportation while our streets and freeways slowly degenerate into high- or low-speed traffic jams at all hours. Any car with fewer than than six cylinders is considered infantile and any truck with less than 400 cubic inches of engine and torque enough to uproot tree stumps is un-American.
Meanwhile, we go broke from the costs of a sickly populace, our energy deficits and the inescapable costs of wars, past and current, not to mention arming for the future. Either the government cuts spending on programs that are the basic contract with the people, or increase revenue drastically, meaning taxes.
I suggest that we overhaul our entire tax system to put the costs of our bad habits on the victims. Tax cars and trucks on the basis of engine size and fuel use, combined with air pollution fees to make driving gas-guzzling muscle cars an expensive habit. Tax beverages on their calories and threats from certain ingredients found to pose health risks. The same for prepared foods and fast food items that contribute to the obesity and diabetes epidemics. If people want drugs, including alcohol, collect taxes to pay for the rehab costs. To reduce gun violence, tax ammunition. Prostitution? Collect a room tax per customer.
The short and simple of it is to decide what’s good and what’s bad, then tax the hell out of the bad and use the money to solve the problems we face.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.