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    Lawmakers hope a tax on soda pop could curb childhood obesity but unless you tax the beverage at a high enough rate, they're unlikely to significantly reduce consumption. Some 25 states levy some form of tax on soft drinks, according to the Center For Science in the Public Interest. Experts consider soda to be one of the leading causes of childhood obesity. Ranging from 6 percent sales tax to a 21 cents to $1 per-gallon excise tax on the syrup used to sweeten soda, taxation on soda in different states have failed to put a dent in the epidemic according to experts. Michigan is among states that exempt soda pop from the 6-percent sales tax. So, what’s the big toss up?

    . Should Michigan tax soda in an effort to curb child hood obesity? Well, the answer seems pretty clear. Taxation on soda, and taxation as a means to encourage big, positive domestic change, will not work. Simply said. Paula Holmes Greenley of The Muskegon Chronicle writes: “According to President Barack Obama and scores of federal and state lawmakers, I should pay a penalty for having downed that can of RC. They believe Americans should pay a tax on soda pop and other sugar-sweetened drinks. The reason? To fight obesity and pay for President Obama's $1 trillion plus health care reform proposal, the idea being that obesity-related illnesses are driving up medical spending, so it's only right that items that cause obesity be taxed to offset and reduce medical expenses. But why attack obesity in this roundabout way? If we are going to use taxation to fight obesity, we should simply tax the obese! Impose a surcharge on a person's income taxes or payroll taxes. Hold back earned income tax credits and welfare payments. Tie the surcharge or reduction in government assistance to a person's body mass index. The higher the BMI, the higher the surcharge and lower the government handout.” Greenley brings up an interesting alternative. What is the state truly concerned about here? Obesity or making a buck? If it’s what most seems to think it is, a way of making a buck while having a seemingly humanitarian cause, taxation on soda pop isn’t the grandest idea legislators can come up with. Why not spend some energy devising truly evolutional legislation? Should we have a society focused on fear; a society focused on punishment and preventative initiatives before progressive, encouraging legislation? And, is soda what is really making the children of Michigan obese? What about general food choices and the state’s overall lack of exercise encouragement? Michigan should be focused on implementing programs which encourage battling obesity; meeting children and families where they are to encouraging strong, better choices. Civilians should not live in fear of treats and taxation. They should not be forced, in this economy, out of indulgence and comfort once in a while. Yet, the state’s idea to tax, tax, and tax doesn’t have an ounce of shock value. Just as families are struggling with the repercussions of a dwindling economy, so is mother state.

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    The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College. 

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    Meet your Policy Fellow: Jocelyn Cutean

    Jocelyn Cutean serves as Morality and Family policy correspondent for the Michigan Policy Network. She is a first-year student at Michigan State, majoring in Theatre and English. Jocelyn has experience working on the executive board of the Waterford Chapter Coalition for Youth. She has also piloted a grant funded city wide public service announcement entitled, "It Just Wasn't Worth It" which exposes the repercussions of driving while intoxicated. Jocelyn enjoys art of all forms, from writing to performance.