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Business Week on taxing meat

Business Week has a couple of complimentary items. The first is an article recommending a tax on meat, which I am a little late sending out but wanted to make sure to share. Just yesterday, however, April 11, the Business Week website posted an interview with Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown that is terrific viewing.

The article, by Charles Kenny, is titled, “The Economic Case for Taxing Meat.”

It opens:
“As tax season ramps up, we’re bound to hear proposals aimed at making the revenue system simpler and more efficient. A perennial is the ‘sin tax.’ Rather than tax earnings—when we really want people to earn money—why not tax things we don’t want people to do? Add duties to cigarettes, alcohol, and carbon dioxide to slow people’s smoking, drinking, and polluting, and you’ll do them and the world a favor while raising revenue for schools, hospitals, and roads. But why stop there? It’s time to add one more sin to the list of habits that should be taxed: excessive meat consumption.”

Kenny cites studies showing that meat eaters are more likely than vegetarians to be obese, a drain on the health care system.

Ironically, however, he notes that meat consumption impacts widespread human malnutrition as “livestock production occupies 30 percent of the land surface of the planet.” He notes, “Some of that land could be used instead to cultivate crops for human consumption.”

Kenny writes, “Domesticated animals have been the incubators of many of the world’s greatest killer diseases,” and reports, “We’ve added to that risk by regularly feeding factory animals antibiotics. Eighty percent of all antibiotics consumed in the U.S. are used on animals. This widespread use has been linked to the rapid emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which kills 18,000 people a year in the U.S.”

He also discusses the meat industry’s effect on climate change and on the oceans, as fish are fed to factory farmed animals.

Then he reminds us:
“Yet despite all the reasons for curbing meat consumption, livestock farmers got nearly a third of a billion dollars in subsidies in 2011 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

It’s a fascinating article, which you’ll find on line at

The interview with Ethan Brown, the founder of Beyond Meat, is on line at:

It’s terrific viewing. Beyond Meat is a product aimed at people who love meat — in other words aimed at the vast majority of the population. It’s a happy development.

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