An interesting article in Slate today about the social psychology of “sin taxes” and how people in general resent being told what to do. They may, in fact, react by consuming even more of the sinning item than before the nannies intervened, just to prove a point.
Unfortunately, the point of the article seems to be how to implement sin taxes — in this case, a soda tax — without annoying people to the point where the tax is counterproductive. Something about “refram[ing]” the tax so it doesn’t tip people off as to its real purpose. The author concludes with this gem:
If we want to implement a sweetened beverage tax and maximize its effectiveness, the best approach would be to dissociate it from the larger issue of individual choice and focus on its immediate practical benefits, such as the revenue it produces. Over time, we’ll get used to it. We might even wonder why we didn’t do it sooner.
To end on a positive note, many of the comments are striking a distinctly libertarian tone.