Monday, December 17, 2007

Following Guns, Smokes, and Fat

Who would have thought that after our government hand-wringers started wagging their official fingers at guns, tobacco, and fat they would focus on a new target?

SF Considers a Tax on Sugary Drinks
For years, the idea of taxing soda to beat back obesity has been tossed around in medical circles. But now, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is proposing a tax on beverages high in fructose corn syrup.

Newsom says obesity accounts for tens of millions of dollars in city health care costs. He cites a recent San Francisco Health Department survey that found nearly a quarter of the city's 5th, 7th and 9th graders were overweight and that high sugar drinks make up a tenth of a kid's daily calorie count.

Newsom reportedly wants all big box retailers and chain drug stores to pay into his new "Shape up San Francisco" program, which started this past summer with a walking regimen.

This comes as the state of California is considering slapping caffeine-infused sodas, and energy drinks with warning labels, saying consumption can contribute to diabetes.
If I were interested in changing the subject, I'd wonder aloud whether or not Mayor Newsom wants to tax adultery.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's re-election campaign manager resigned Wednesday after confronting the mayor about an affair Newsom had with his wife while she worked in the mayor's office, City Hall sources said.

Alex Tourk, 39, who served as Newsom's deputy chief of staff before becoming his campaign manager in September, confronted the mayor after his wife, Ruby Rippey-Tourk, told him of the affair as part of a rehabilitation program she had been undergoing for substance abuse, said the sources, who had direct knowledge of Wednesday's meeting.
He even looked for treatment for alcohol abuse following that story.

The mayor also faced scrutiny late last year for bringing a then 20-year-old woman out on dates, where she was reportedly seen drinking what appeared to be alcohol.
However, that is irrelevant. (Even if it was a media-dodge.)

Back to the topic. The mayor doesn't like kids drinking sweet drinks.

After banning plastic bags from chain grocery stores and bottled water from City Hall...

Now Newsom wants the soda sellers - primarily big-box retailers and chain drugstores - to chip in for his "Shape Up San Francisco" program and for media campaigns to discourage the soda habit.

The size of the fee (it won't be billed as a tax) is being worked out, but it may include a sweetener - namely giving the stores some other kind of fee break.
A fee... not a tax. Hmmm. Governor Pawlenty, call on Line One from San Fran.

"Shape Up San Francisco"? This is part of government's responsibility... how? If he were really interested in the health of citizens maybe they would focus on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases.

According to the press release from last Spring:

The Mayor will issue an Executive Order adopting the Shape Up at Work Standards and directing City departments to incorporate the standards as well as worksite wellness into each department’s goals and objectives.
I can hear Soucheray's bit with Buddy or the German right now.

For Christ's sake, just do what the government used to do, if you need to do anything at all... have the Department of Education hand out fitness awards for kids who aren't fat.

With all of that clap-trap, can you guess what else he likes (other than his employees' wives)? unprecedented program called "San Francisco Health Access Plan," which Newsom hammered out with labor, business, and city leaders. More than 82,000 San Franciscans who lack health insurance and do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid stand to benefit. The majority are employed adults (children already have access to subsidized care); others are unemployed, self-employed, homeless, or have pre-existing conditions like diabetes, AIDS or cancer; some are even undocumented (yes: illegal) workers. Starting in early 2007, every uninsured San Franciscan can seek comprehensive primary care at the city's public and private clinics and hospitals, including top research facilities like the University of California at San Francisco. Coverage includes lab work, prescriptions, X rays, hospitalization and surgery. Annual funding for the $203 million program will come from re-routed city funds (including $104 million that now goes toward uninsured care via emergency rooms and clinics), business contributions and individual enrollment fees, which will be income-adjusted.

Newsom considers San Francisco's historic undertaking a "moral obligation," one that other city, state and federal officials have shirked. "We are implementing this. We're not waiting around," he told TIME. "It's no longer good enough to explain away our problem and to point fingers."...
[Mayor Newsom] called just about every lobbyist and special interest in town seeking money to defeat Proposition E, a ballot measure put before voters last month by his chief nemesis, Supervisor Chris Daly.

The measure, which lost, would have required Newsom to submit to a once-a-month "question time." According to records on file with the city Ethics Commission, Newsom raised some $194,000 to defeat it.
Although I'm breathing a sigh of relief for living in Minnesota... this stuff always seems to wash in with the tide eventually.



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