Back when God loved us there existed penny candy and dollar hoagies; there were two dollar cheesesteaks that would warm and soften the Frunas in plastic bags; Swedish fish, Chuckles, Mary Janes and Bits-O-Honey made sure I never had any change left; and those little hard fruit shaped jawns (the names of which I can’t remember) would go stale because I’d always forget them.

There was also quarter and fifty cent soda.

Off-brand as shit. In my neighborhood it was “Day’s,” but there are more variations than I can count now. Day’s soda though, had blue. I have no recollection of the fruit flavor it pretended to be, or if it even bothered faking it so we just called it blue. It didn’t say anything like “all natural” or “made from X% juice, etc;” it was just blue.

I knew that if I had three dollars I could get a cheesesteak, a fifty cent blue soda and a sack of candy, which–while lacking in nutritional value– was delicious and most importantly, made me happy. Happiness, that temporary and difficult as hell thing to grasp, now finds me in furtive dreams about blackened Red Snapper as I’ve mostly backed away from sweets.

When I was for real broke though, I loved that blue soda.

This is partly why I can’t get behind those defending the SSB tax. Yes, I’m aware that we should all drink more water (#Flint SSB tax?). I’m aware that our friends who get paid to make important decisions on our behalf have claimed that the money will go to education… But I’m also aware, that like most money grabs thinly wrapped in benevolence that it’s target is poor people.

I’m mostly surrounded by people with these arguments:

  1. “It’ll curb obesity and diabetes and therefore medical costs.” Soda is not the only thing contributing to obesity and diabetes, even the regularly attributed high correlation is a reach, let alone sole causation. Your medical costs are not going anywhere ever unless we adopt a single payer system no matter who changes what policy so might as well get over that.
  2. “It’s mostly welfare money that I pay for being spent on things with no nutritional value anyway.” If you believe that government benefits like welfare are seducing some significant portion of your hard earned paycheck, you are so far behind on economics and government policy that it will be hard to think/talk/read about this and your misgivings are more likely rooted in hatred for the types of people you perceive to be “getting” welfare–by that I mean bathing in vaults of Scrooge McDuck like money.
  3. “We need the money for good causes (education) and the SSB tax is the only way to help with that.” Hahahahahahahahaha. Ha.

Sure, we’d all like to toughen people up for their own good and demand they all drink more water (it’s lack of consistent availability being an interesting irony in this SSB debate), but let’s be real for a second and consider not only that that’s some totalitarian bullshit which most of us wouldn’t tolerate in our own lives, but that it simply doesn’t work.

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