Saturday, March 13, 2010

Keep your tax off my pizza!

As I've mentioned many times before, I think there's a fine line between personal accountability and the need for governmental legislation. That line, in my opinion, falls smack between me and an innocent bystander who might be affected by my reckless behavior. I don't think my addiction to pizza falls into this category.

Just this morning -- before I'd even had my full quota of morning tea to provide my antioxidents, in fact -- I heard a news report that there's thought (?) being given to an 18% tax on pizza as a method of discouraging people from eating what I consider to be the world's almost perfect food. There's precedent for this, of course. There have been taxes levied on sodas to discourage kids and adults from consuming the amount of sugar they contain. And, goodness knows, there have been taxes piled on top of taxes to slow the sale of cigarettes. Now, pizza? Come on, people, get a grip.

If we learned little else from Prohibition, it's that you can't legislate morality. You can, however, create laws that make people think twice hopefully about consuming so much alcohol that they're blind drunk when they get behind the wheel of a car. And we can justify it because that action -- driving while drunk -- can put someone else's life at risk.

Who, pray tell, is hurt because we're a nation that loves our pizza? Sure, there are those who eat it, and many other things, to excess. I suspect you could probably kill yourself by consuming too much broccoli if you ate it to the exclusion of everything else. But you're not likely to harm your neighbor because you have a slice of pizza...or even the whole darn thing.

I mentioned earlier that I consider pizza to be the perfect food. It has grain in the crust, it has dairy in the cheese, it has tomatoes in the sauce and, if you order the veggie variety, it has green peppers, onions and black olives. I'm sure there are plenty of nutrition experts out there who'll jump on this and tell me I'm insane and who can provide the nutritional low-down to prove it. However, I'd like to point out that pizza of various types is one of my basic food groups...and at my somewhat advanced age, with a family history of cholesterol problems, my cholesterol count is in very positive territory. Thank goodness.

Now, I have no problem with fast food chains and other restaurants providing the nutritional information on their menu selections and allowing consumers to make informed choices. In fact, while it may take some of the fun out of dining out, it should certainly assist those of us who are trying to keep a somewhat watchful eye on our diets. But a tax singling out pizza? In an economy in which every spare cent counts and a weekly pizza night is an inexpensive treat for a large family? Think, too, about the impact on small businesses, because while Domino's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's and others may be large chains, the individual businesses are usually locally owned, the drivers and clerks local young people. Tack on an 18% tax, watch sales plummet and see those businesses start laying off workers. All because the government doesn't trust us to make wise choices for ourselves and our kids.

So, to whoever's responsible for this brainstorm (?), reel it in. Leave me and my pizza alone. And if you think it doesn't matter, because you don't give two hoots about pizza -- or sodas, for that matter -- then drop in your favorite food in its place, because it's a obviously a very slippery slope from pizza and sodas to hamburgers, fries, ice cream and that all-American dessert . . . apple pie.

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Sherryl Woods


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