Imagine I created a bill called Keep American Clean, and to do it, I intended to create pollution. A giant chunk of people would go along with it based on the name, especially if I am in their political party.

That is the claim made about the intent of California’s Keep Groceries Affordable Act of 2018. In a state that already has a stigma of social authoritarianism wrapped in quasi-benevolent racism, the bill prevents local governments from throwing any tax they want on foods they choose to ban. Foods that people of color happen to like. If they do that outside state laws, they will lose revenue.

The American Heart Association and various other groups supported a lawsuit to oppose it. While politicians and food activists may have felt like they were doing people a favor, one lesson that white politicians should have learned in the last few years is that people of color are done being told they are dupes of Big Food and too uninformed to make their own choices. And it's vaguely hypocritical. The American Heart Association gets a small fortune from the beef industry. Would they side with a lawsuit that said meat should have special taxes on it? Lots of epidemiologists correlate meat to harm, after all.

Positive framing is not just done by one side. The activists pushing for a special tax on soda use buzzwords like "health equity", which signals to their tribe who believe people need a White Savior that they are doing God's Work, but they proceed from an assumption that is not based on evidence; they claim that soda taxes make people healthier. 

It's not true. The data show nothing of the kind. Here is an example why. There are those who claim that more guns make people safer, and they actually have a point. A criminal is a lot less likely to break into houses where everyone is known to be armed. But Somalia did become safer when the place became littered with guns. There is clearly an inflection point where more guns become bad, just like too much medicine is bad. Yet if you pick and choose only Somalia or cases where someone overdosed on fentanyl, are you really informing public health? If you tell people of color or anyone poor they need government control or they won't be able to control themselves, how is that different from Oliver Wendell Holmes rationalizing eugenics?

Obviously, soda shouldn't be free in water fountains, that would be an inflection point negative, just orange juice would be. Yet there is no evidence that higher taxes are making people healthier, it simply makes government more reliant on the market they claim to want to reduce. When New York City decided to really stick it to cigarette smokers with a huge tax increase, their revenue went down. So the mayor told the police to start cracking down on people selling "loosies" - individual cigarettes. It was only after a black man was killed by police during this government-mandated petty harassment that the rest of the nation wondered about how the black market in New York had gotten so large.

If we knew more taxes were anything but an uninformed money grab, that could be a discussion.

For now, it is remains in court, where The Sacramento County Superior Court found that the state could not deprive a city of its sales tax revenue if they implement a soda tax. The underlying prohibition of local soda taxes remains in play.