Guest post today by Gerard Oosterman, farmer, artist and blogger who asks why didn’t Tony Abbott get a fat tax up when he had the chance? Well?
Don’t let fat stand in the way of Neo-liberalism and the Markets.
Here we go again. I am hardly up and hoisting on my morning coat, and what do I see on opening The Australian (art and TV section) but a largish article expanding on last week’s news about the Danish Fat Tax (DFT), and giving some rather interesting snippets of insight into a country that likes to prevent trouble rather than react afterwards.
The Australian waxes lyrically on about how Finland and Romania are also going to implement this tax. Now, the curious but very enlightening part of this article is how those Nordic countries seem to govern. It’s heart-warming again, isn’t it? First let us reflect that Denmark has taken a turn to the left with a female leader Ms Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who, nota bene, happens to be the daughter-in-law of the former British Labour leader Neil Kinnock…
Ms Thorning-Schmidt came to power last month promising to increase taxes on banks and high earners to pay for more spending on health and schools. Eyes agog please! She got into power promising to increase taxes! The fat tax had already been attempted by the outgoing conservative government, to no avail. Their promise to increase taxation wasn’t big enough and the practical Danes booted them out. Can this tale get any better? Yes, it can.
Denmark has a low obesity rate of 10% with a special tax on high sugar content foods such as soft drinks and sweets having been in place for some years. It is the highest taxed developed country with a VAT of 25% on top of everything else. With these taxes one would have thought there would be riots and blood on the streets daily, but no, nothing like that on the news. On the contrary, I don’t get the impression the Danes are particularly unhappy with their lot.
England is generally known as being loath to take action of any kind too rapidly with their fondness for ‘order, order’ instead, but are slowly considering a fat tax as well. Previously, like here in Australia, they preferred to nudge people into better food and eating habits. Any form of tax to force things along is traditionally thought of as forming corrupting ‘Nanny State’ habits, implying that the UK is some kind of dream socially equal paradise already.
With a wild guess that Australia might have had a much lower obesity rate some years ago, it would not be all that unreasonable to assume that our world reputation as the fattest on earth could have been nipped in the bud by none other than…our intrepid potentially disastrous future leader, the honourable…., I give you……. Tony Abbott…. order, order,… some years ago.
Yep, that’s right, wasn’t he a health minister, health and ageing some 10 years ago? Before that there were other Liberal Health ministers. While obesity started to impact on general health with a blowing out of associated diseases, nothing was done. Not even the banning of TV advertisements of bad foods during children’s programmes. Nothing must impede the “markets”. (Wasn’t it lovely to read Andrew (Twiggy) Forrest doubled his salary and collected a handy $48 million in dividends from his company in just the one year, FMG?) Now there is the market working for you.
With our fondness for Neo-Liberalism and letting Markets do the walking for us we now seem to have reaped a nasty fat bug. That’s of course apart from homelessness, our miserable state of mental health, the aboriginal disaster, old age care, hosts of other collapsing societal benefits including our hostile and unfriendly manner of dealing with a few thousand boat people. Yes, indeed, a more prosperous and freer society but not a more equal society. A bit of a looming lemon really. Oh, for just a bit of Denmark.
To markets, to markets to buy a fat pig…Home again, home again…
Gerard blogs at Oosterman Treats Blog
- Denmark’s Fat Tax Aims To Make Obesity Expensive (inquisitr.com)
- Fat tax is here: Body blow for butter-loving Danes as fat tax kicks in (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)