‘Nickle-and-Diming People to Death’

Published July 1, 2005

The Troy Record in New York published an editorial on May 12 against Detroit’s proposed fast-food tax, noting, “Cash-strapped states and municipalities are finding ever-more creative ways of nickel-and-diming people to death in efforts to balance the books.

“After all, it is a lot easier to generate new income than it is to reduce expenses, so why do the right thing when you can do the easy thing?” the editorial said. “But why, you may be wondering, are we concerned about a fast-food tax in Detroit? Because once a politician sniffs cash fresh off the griddle, ideas and schemes expand.”

The Record concluded, “It is an unfair tax, it is a tax that will be borne for the most part by people in tough financial circumstances, and it doesn’t make sense–not in Detroit, and not here. If [this] proposal does get on the floor of the Assembly for consideration, we hope his colleagues have enough sense to super-size the vote against it.”

Bipartisan Displeasure

The Yellow Line, a Web site run by a former Republican and former Democrat (now both Independents), also slammed what they called the Big Mac Tax.

“[This] proposal is a troubling sign of desperate measures that may lay [sic] ahead as other cities and states wrestle with spiraling costs associated with an aging population,” the Line said. “Such ad hoc tax increases run counter to the tax-simplification effort that the federal government appears to finally be taking seriously.

“Unless these underlying structural problems are addressed, regressive and ultimately self-defeating efforts such as the Big Mac Tax may be the thin edge of the wedge, no pun intended.”

Columnist Laura Berman, writing in the Detroit News, had this to say on April 17: “If Kilpatrick was serious, he’d tax Slow Food–the luxury restaurants that dispense multi-course feasts with gourmet touches, where dinner can cost $100 a person.”

Berman also asked, “How fast would food have to be to be taxed? Would the city tax quick lunches from the wholesome, whole-grain Avalon bakery and doughnuts from Dawn? Is the Greek salad at the Old & New Parthenon fast or slow?”

— John W. Skorburg