Thursday, July 13, 2017

Saving jobs? Or cheap pop!

Are we really on the verge of putting some 1,100 people out-of-work because we want to keep the price of pop and other sweetened drinks as low as possible?
Is this worth 20 more cents?

That’s the line of logic being offered up by Cook County government these days, where officials say layoff notices will have to be issued in coming days to a significant number of county employees.

THAT IS BECAUSE the penny per ounce tax increase on the carbonated drinks too many of us consume at too high a rate has been stalled by the courts, meaning it can’t be charged and Cook County government can forget (for now, at least) about raising the revenue it mentally had already spent to maintain its operations.

For the record, the county was expecting some $67.5 million for the rest of their fiscal year (through Nov. 30) and more than $200 million for the next fiscal year – which begins Dec. 1.

That’s a big hole to suddenly have crop up in the budget. I can see where county officials would be dismayed at the various restraining orders that have prevented them from charging the penny per ounce fee they wanted to start collecting back on July 1.

Those restraining orders, as of now, run through July 21 – at which time there will be more hearings in the Cook County Circuit Court and a judge could eventually issue an order that strikes down the pop tax outright.
Will county government services need to be cut?

NOW AS ONE who has experienced the “wonders” (sarcasm most definitely intended) of job layoffs, I’m not thrilled about the idea of any worker being let go for any reason – particularly one that isn’t their fault.

But I also don’t doubt that many people aren’t terribly sympathetic to the idea of the county wanting to preserve its operations – which some may have their own ideological hang-ups about in thinking have grown too big.

If you really are the type of person who thinks it’s a good thing that the county will have fewer workers, I’ll say you’re a cold-hearted person.
Having a pop not the same experience of old

But there may be those who view the tax bills they’re already paying and figure they don’t like the idea of paying one penny more.

WHICH IS WHY the notion of this particular pop tax being only one cent per ounce may sound terrible. Besides, that’s about a 20-cent increase in the typical plastic bottle of pop meant to evoke the image of the old glass Coca-Cola bottles we all used to drink from.

And as for the 2-liter bottles that are all so popular, that’s another 65 cents added to the price.

Personally, I don’t that’s overly excessive – although I’ll also admit that I have been making an effort during the past year to reduce the total amount of carbonated beverages I consume.

I still enjoy an occasional Coke, but have to admit to finding ice water equally refreshing, Maybe I’m just getting boring in my old age.

BUT SERIOUSLY, IT would not be the worst thing in the world if people would think twice about the amount of carbonation they feel the need to consume. Which, if you think about it honestly, can create a gassy condition that can’t possibly be good for any of us.

If you think I’m somehow trivializing this issue, keep in mind that this is the essence of all the legalese that eventually will be spewed in open court as attorneys argue on the merits of the county being able to use a pop tax as a revenue-raising source.

At some point, a judge is going to have to decide on the merits of carbonated beverages in general, and the right of an individual to have a Coke (and a smile, according to the old jingle) for as cheap a price as possible.

Is that really a right? In order to properly express my thoughts on that concept, I’d have to guzzle down a Coke or two in order to get the proper tone to my belch!


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