Cocoa is rich in
antioxidant flavonoids called flavanols. ... Studies have shown
that people with high blood levels of flavonoids have lower risk
of heart disease, lung cancer, prostate cancer, asthma and Type
2 diabetes ... people who ate a diet rich in cocoa powder and
dark chocolate had lower oxidation levels of bad LDL
cholesterol, higher blood antioxidant levels, and 4 percent
higher levels of good HDL cholesterol.
Gov. Deval Patrick
wants to tax sweets, including, presumably, the dark chocolate that
is standing between his constituents and heart disease, lung cancer,
prostate cancer, asthma and Type 2 diabetes. Why does he hate us?
OK, to borrow one of
the governor's favorite phrases: I get it. State revenues for the
new fiscal year beginning in July are expected to increase "only" by
more than a billion dollars, a 6.9 percent increase over this year's
estimated revenues, hiking the state budget by less than two billion
dollars. This proposed $32.3 billion budget apparently can't keep
the state in the style to which it is accustomed, so what's a state
Our total tax burden,
per capita, is only fourth in the nation, so let's go tax the
I "get" the sale-tax
exemption argument. Food is exempted from the state sales tax
because it's an essential expenditure on something that's good for
us; candy and soda are not essential, and are in fact bad for us;
therefore, candy and soda should not be exempted from the state
But Nanny, the latest
data show dark chocolate, filled with antioxidants, is good for us.
Therefore, it should not be taxed. Dark chocolate with fruit and
nuts in it, like one of my favorite candy bars, is even better for
us. Thinking in government language now, maybe my candy bars should
When I had a cold
and/or sore throat, my mother would make healing candy with a family
recipe brought here from Germany: Mix honey, molasses, vinegar,
vanilla, butter and, of course, sugar; boil until it crackles.
Of course in my western
Pennsylvania hometown, founded by Catholic Germans who built the
brewery right after the church, Straub's beer (all grain, no sugar,
salt or preservatives added) was considered one of the major food
groups. It was consumed by nursing mothers to enrich their milk and
by senior citizens to keep them "regular." Here in Massachusetts,
this whole-grain nutritious beverage, were it imported from
Pennsylvania, would already be taxed! But back to candy. Health
Magazine tells us that "Eating chocolate stimulates the brain's
opioid production. Opioids are chemicals responsible for diminishing
pain sensations, enhancing pleasurable ones, and creating a sense of
overall well-being. Your body's natural opioids include endorphins,
chemicals which increase your pain tolerance."
This applies even to
not-dark chocolate. Patrick wants to tax our opioid production! He
doesn't care if we are in pain! Shame, shame, Gov. Patrick.
I can't wait to see the
pages of regulations on what is candy and therefore subject to the
sales tax, and what is not.
Never mind. The
governor plans to balance his tax assault on our physical and mental
health with additional taxes on tobacco. Smokers will get another
50-cent increase per pack, and the tobacco excise will be expanded
to cigars and other smokeless tobacco products.
House Minority Leader
Brad Jones asked, "Is this part of the plan to help balance the
budget in New Hampshire?" Actually, I'm surprised at how much money
Massachusetts still gets from the cigarette tax.
Chip Ford once
suggested to Big Tobacco that it announce it would no longer sell
cigarettes in Massachusetts; he thought it would be fun to watch
state government panic over the immediate loss of those revenues to
which it has become addicted. Right now, if everyone stopped
smoking, the commonwealth would lose roughly $484 million in excise
taxes, and $90 million in sales taxes. So I'd suggest that our
commonwealth doesn't increase the cost of tobacco use for the
purpose of preventing cancer. Despite a natural resistance to paying
higher taxes, everyone won't stop smoking, any more than I'll stop
eating sweets or, for that matter, drinking Coca-Cola Cherry Zero.
(Shouldn't diet drinks be exempt at least until we break our
sweetened soda addiction? Does the state tax methadone?)
So there I was, last
weekend, watching Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the House Ways and Means
chairman, being interviewed by Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday"
about President Obama's State of the Union address, which the
congressman memorably accused of calling for "a future of debt,
doubt and decline." He attacked the tax hike on "the rich," noting
that this category includes the many small businesses that file as
It was Ryan's 42nd
birthday, so at the end of the interview he was presented with a
cake that had a dollar sign frosted on it.
This young politician,
one of the few with whom I've identified (fiscal conservative,
libertarian and Aquarian) said, "I don't eat sweets." Well, goodbye
my kindred spirit!
I'll still vote for him
for president someday, when he's older. At least he tries to lead by
example, not tax policy. Do you eat cake, Gov. Patrick?