So it’s come to this.

The nation that gave the world the Danish has enacted the world’s most draconian butter tax. As of Saturday, Danes are paying about $1.40 more per pound for their butter, and God-only-knows how much more for their cheese, milk, meat and oil.

While I’d like to think that the legislation is a fluke, it’s far more likely that it’s but the thin end of the wedge for Europe, as cash-strapped governments cast about madly for new sources of revenue, all the while claiming to have the best interests of “the people” at heart. Denmark doesn’t even have an obesity problem. Of course the Danish government claims the law has been enacted to keep things that way. Let’s hope that in time the people of Denmark come to see through such a transparent ruse, and more than that, that other nations in Europe don’t succumb to the temptation to implement similar dietary nanny-ism.

The last thing a free people need is their government deciding what sorts of foods they’re allowed to put in their mouths. The Danish law should be a wake-up call to us all. For dietary scolds abound, friends. If they can do it there, they can do it here.

12 thoughts on “So it’s come to this.”

  1. I’m sure some food nanny will try this here. They’ll first start by taxing junk food, cola, and fast food and then move to milk, cheese, and butter. It’s for the children’s sake you know.

  2. You have to remember though, that Denmark has state funded healthcare.
    It’s not completely unreasonable to gain revenue from consumer goods which increase government expenditure if consumed in excess. I’m not sure having no obesity problem is germane either; the relationship between saturated fats (which is what the tax is on) and heart disease is not because they makes you obese, it’s because they contribute to blocked arteries. If obesity was their concern they’d be taxing all fats, not just saturated ones, and probably other things like sugary drinks as well. The fact that Denmark has also banned (not taxed) trans fats should also give some indication that their motives are truly health-related rather than revenue-gathering.
    The other side of the same coin is to reduce taxation on “healthy” foods. This is being advocated here in New Zealand – one of our major political parties is promising to remove GST (sales tax) on fruit and vegetables if they gain power in our upcoming elections. Personally, I think it’s likely to cost more to implement than it would save, but it’s a very popular idea, and is really no different from taxing unhealthy foods if you think about it.
    We also have huge taxes on tobacco here, partly to discourage smoking and partly because smokers cost the taxpayer a heap in healthcare. When you live in a country with socialised healthcare you have to consider a portion of your taxes to be a health insurance premium, and no one anywhere thinks it’s at all strange to have higher premiums for people with unhealthy lifestyles. In some ways, taxing the goods is fairer – as far as insurance companies are concerned as smoker is a smoker and therefore high risk. Taxing the tobacco means you are taxing the 40 a day guy more than the 5 a day guy, making the tax proportional to the level of risk.

    1. Hey Bronwyn!

      I’m not going to get into the socialized healthcare debate (it’s a sore subject here in the States at the moment). Suffice to say our culture was built on the principle of live and let live. In general we have a low tolerance for government taxation and/or instruction.

      – Joe

      1. Yes, I’m well aware of the rumpus you’ve been having. Whether or not universal healthcare is a good thing is one question, but given that Denmark does have it, and that the majority of people there must want it, you can’t judge their tax laws by American standards. You Americans are free to despise socialized healthcare, but those of us who have it tend to love it. At least, we complain about it a lot, but we wouldn’t be without it and are on the whole happy to pay the taxes it requires.

        1. Which means I’m still free to heap scorn on the Danish law, I hope — because I don’t intend to stop! 😉

          Thanks Bronwyn!

      2. I’m gonna have to go with Bronwyn here. I know about the heated debate in the US, but again, you have to realize that Denmark wasn’t discussing whether they want “socialized” HC. They have it – that’s it. And in that frame, banning trans fats, taxing fat – is just the right thing to do.

        Let me illustrate: I have a chronic disease (not lifestyle related). I am a tax / HC system payer. I can’t get my spa subsidy, but heavy smokers suffering from lung cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease of course can. I LIKE cigarettes being taxed. I LIKE alcohol being taxed. I LIKE foods that are the staple of those who don’t care about their health, but like to use the benefits of socialized HC, being taxed. I like butter, but I eat it in moderation. If my country decided to tax butter, it would mean a cent or two cents difference in my personal budget.

        1. Point taken Tjasa! Different strokes for different folks, as we like to say. Thanks for the email!

          – Joe

  3. H.L. Mencken: “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it.”

  4. The odd thing is that Denmark heavily subsidizes the dairy industry, providing over 30% of a typical dairy farm’s income… but then they heavily tax the produce?
    So I guess they want lots of milk, butter and cheese, but they don’t want people to buy it.

    1. Maybe they just want other people to buy it. Could this mean Lurpak is about to drop in price? This could work in my favor yet! Thanks Wally!

      – Joe

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