Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

If A Fat Tax Upon Sugar, Why Not On Clothes For Landwhales?

It can be difficult to catch up with what it is that we’re all supposed to be doing, so contradictory are the claims being made. For example, we’re told that obesity is the very devil of our age and that it will consume the entire NHS unless something is done about it. This is wrong, of course, as fatty lardbuckets pop earlier thereby reducing their costs to the NHS and the taxpayer. But still, that’s the argument made.

The argument made with such force that everyone should pay more tax upon sugar – and soon to come no doubt fat and even calories – in order to make being a lardbucket more expensive. Things that are more expensive we humans do less of, so, tax people into thinness.

OK. Not that I or we agree but OK.

And yet taxing people into being thin is apparently very terrible indeed:

At first glance, these two women appear to be dressed in identical outfits. But look at the prices, and you will see there is one major difference: the cost.

A size 18 outfit can cost up to 23 per cent more than an identical one in a size 8, illustrating that larger women pay more to dress as stylishly as slimmer counterparts. This has been dubbed the ‘fat tax’.

Aren’t we supposed to be applauding the existence of a fat tax? It is, after all, direct government policy that we should pay more tax upon items containing sugar, isn’t it?

Do note that in economic terms there’s no difference between the two taxes. Taxation of things put into land whales is no different from taxing what land whales put themselves into. Both are a tax upon, a rise in the price of, being a land whale and both will reduce the incidence of land whaleness.

If we are supposed to be reducing obesity then why shouldn’t obese people pay more for their clothes?

And yes, as a small piece of vital public information, size 18 is obese. At least.

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Spike
3 years ago

Yes, either we should invent a “social cost” of obesity, and design refined Pigou Taxes to make individuals pay exactly for the services we create to minister to the problems they don’t think they have, or we should enshrine their right to be whatever they self-identify as (and guarantee them equality of results).

We are unable to resolve this dilemma, or even embrace first principles, not even the rights of individuals to choose their own balance between fitness and pleasure. And we await the next government decree.

Chester Draws
Chester Draws
3 years ago

The targets don’t get the signals such a tax would send.

They already spend more than the skinny on food, find it harder to find clothes, find getting a nice life partner harder and are discriminated against in employment too. Oh, and their health suffers.

There’s *nothing* about being really large that is good.

So the signals simply aren’t working.

Time for something new.

Spike
3 years ago
Reply to  Chester Draws

Why is it “time”? Presumably “something new” does not include new mandated costs, given that the targets seem to be willing to pay costs. But perhaps remove their entitlement to the best parking spaces in any lot? There is something good about being large: the evidence that individuals are free to ruin their health, at their own account and risk. Another good thing about being large is that people who live to boss other people around enjoy being larger than their victims; size is a visceral symbol of rank. This is why there are always lots of fatties in the… Read more »

jgh
jgh
3 years ago

They’re surprised that a product that is constructed from more materials costs more than a product that uses fewer materials? Presumably they are also staggered that two loaves of bread cost more than one.

john77
john77
3 years ago

There are reasons why a size 18 costs more than a size 8 – firstly, it uses more cloth and more labour to sew it together, secondly the production run is shorter so fixed overheads have to be spread over fewer sales, thirdly the customers are less price-sensitive.
Actually, the Mail online article does allow some retailers to explain most of this, mixedin with the usual idiotic claims of “I shouldn’t have to pay more regardless of what it costs”

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
3 years ago
Reply to  john77

Those who can fit into a size 8, could well buy children’s clothes (which are zero-rated).

Rhoda Klapp
Rhoda Klapp
3 years ago

A tax is when the government gets it. A price differential is not a tax per se.

And we should all mind our own business. Society should not punish people for being fat, and nor should you. We ought to all have the right to treat with those seeking to sell goods without restraint if legal. A curse on all Pigou taxes and nudging from busybodies. Government can start that just as soon as they can mange their proper function satisfactorily. I’m not holding my breath on that.

Southerner
3 years ago
Reply to  Rhoda Klapp

(y)

WindyPants
WindyPants
3 years ago

It’s all bollocks on stilts though. I am a tall fat bloke and it’s damn near impossible to buy clothes at regular outlets.

However, we are constantly harangued into believing that everyone is a fatty these days. If so, one would expect shops to sell clothes that fit their customers. As the nation gets bigger so should our shops’ clothes racks.

As this doesn’t seem to be happening I conclude that it is either bollocks on stilts or a massive business opportunity for someone.

Chester Draws
Chester Draws
3 years ago

The targets don’t get the signals such a tax would send.

They already spend more than the skinny on food, find it harder to find clothes, find getting a nice life partner harder and are discriminated against in employment too. Oh, and their health suffers.

There’s *nothing* about being really large that is good.

So the signals simply aren’t working.

Time for something new.

Spike
Spike
3 years ago

Yes, either we should invent a “social cost” of obesity, and design refined Pigou Taxes to make individuals pay exactly for the services we create to minister to the problems they don’t think they have, or we should enshrine their right to be whatever they self-identify as (and guarantee them equality of results).

We are unable to resolve this dilemma, or even embrace first principles, not even the rights of individuals to choose their own balance between fitness and pleasure. And we await the next government decree.

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