Chris Powell: Ban welfare for sugar, leave everyone else alone

Published on Saturday, 15 April 2017 20:16
Written by Chris Powell


While the General Assembly has yet to come close to devising a budget in the face of state government’s insolvency, some legislators are advocating a major extension of the nanny state. They want to impose a special tax on sugary beverages.

The rationale for the tax is that too many people, and especially too many children, are overweight and in danger of diabetes and that the revenue from the tax would be used to finance “programs” to push the kids toward healthier diets.

The underlying problem is that too many kids have no parents or only incompetent ones, but this cannot be discussed in state politics, lest it implicate public policies that encourage and facilitate child neglect.

The problems with the legislation itself are that it would burden everyone in the name of deterring the supposed misbehavior of a few; that the tax would be regressive, falling mainly on the less wealthy; that the “programs” created would do little more than worsen state government’s pension liabilities; that the tax would drive commerce and employment out of state; and that eventually the revenue raised would be diverted to the general fund, as supposedly dedicated fund revenue is often diverted when state government fails to control expenses generally, which is always.

If, amid state government’s financial collapse, the legislature really thinks it has time for the sugar problem this year, it should heed the suggestion of state Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, who suggests instead prohibiting the use of nutritional welfare funds to purchase sodas and other sugar-heavy products.

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‘Fearless Girl’ is P.C. Distraction: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has extended until next February the permit for the “Fearless Girl” statue to remain facing the “Charging Bull” statue in the city’s financial district around the corner from Wall Street. The confrontation of the statues has become a tourist attraction, but it is really just a politically correct distraction.

The implication of the “Fearless Girl” statue is that the girl, at 4 feet tall, hands defiantly on her hips, ponytail waving in the wind, can face down the bull, 11 feet long with sharp horns. Of course, a real confrontation would leave the girl gored and dead on the pavement, unless she happened to be carrying a high-caliber pistol for defense, in which case she would be breaking city law.

But even as a metaphor, the “Fearless Girl” statue is nonsense. It was placed facing the bull by an investment house to tout its “gender diversity” index fund, which purportedly invests in corporations that put more women in management.

But the lack of women in corporate management is not the problem with big business. The problem is that big businesses, especially big financial businesses, are often dishonest and have too much influence over government and both major political parties, and they often would be dishonest and have too much influence no matter how many women joined corporation boards.

Indeed, the investment firm sponsoring the “Fearless Girl” statue, State Street Global Investors, last year paid $155 million in fines to the U.S. Justice Department for defrauding other financial institutions, $75 million to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for misleading clients about pricing policies, and $60 million to the U.S. Labor Department for violating the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Five years ago State Street was fined $5 million by Massachusetts for managing and selling investors a fund that collapsed after being based on subprime mortgage-backed securities.

But put a politically correct statue on Wall Street and apparently all is to be forgiven or at least overlooked.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Columns on Saturday, 15 April 2017 20:16. Updated: Saturday, 15 April 2017 20:19.