Scientist Proposes Discouraging Meat Consumption with New Tax

February 07, 2014

Tax historian and expert Joseph Thorndike comments in Forbes today on a new scientific study urging reduced meat consumption to address global climate change. The scientists venture outside their wheelhouse for a rather unimaginative solution: use the tax code to punish meat purchases with a hefty new tax.


We can all dream up things we’d like to tax out of existence. Like sugary sodas. Or excessive antibiotic use. Or inequality. All these tax innovations have something to be said for them. (Although I find many — and especially those on food products — to be unforgivably regressive, paternalistic, and haphazard.)

But sin taxes — or to use the more dispassionate and technical term, Pigouvian taxes — have a serious problem. They complicate the principal function of a tax system: raising money to pay for government.

He's absolutely right. Read the full column here.

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