We can address two extreme societal problems locally. Both require changing behavior and a pile of new money: 1) Reduce waste management costs and impacts and 2) improve community-wide health by addressing the litany of sugar-driven metabolic diseases that are destroying America’s health and health “system.”

The taxation rubric is called differential subsidization: Tax the B-Jesus out of what you seek to reduce and subsidize the beneficial solutions with the new revenue stream. A) tax all disposable single serve beverages a lot – say 20% or more—meaning bottled water, sweetened beverages, beer, kombucha–all of it; B) use the new money to install bottled water purification/filling stations at all retail grocery outlets and operate them at no charge; that is, subsidize what bodies actually need, free perfect water; C) also subsidize solid waste services and recycling (but for significantly less trash). Differential subsidization has been shown to work only when the differential tax jumps the retail price by over 20%. To change human behavior, it has to hurt. The municipality can also use the big bucks that will roll into the borough accounts to buy back those walls of coffin-sized retail coolers that keep these metabolic and environmental toxins cool and seductive.

Humans can be creative and can solve the complex patterns of capitalism run amok. We can tax to pay for solid waste services and waste reduction and control the growing, existential crisis of metabolic disease manifest as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, fatty livers, lethargy and fuzzy thinking.

Burl Sheldon