Followers of my blog with recognize that I'm a fan of some sin taxes (smoking is a no-brainer example), but enacting this dynamic pigovian taxes do have downsides. The biggest downside is, how do we define "sin?"
If I sneak over to your house while you are at work, shoot your dog in the face, and leave it on your porch for you to find when you get home, that is "sin" by most all accounts.
If I put a little extra salt on my french fries and eat it or serve it to others, is that sin? If it is sin, what does that sin cost? Surely if I know salt will kill myself or others in the future, and I knowing feed it to myself, then I am acting in a sado-masochistic fashion - I'm slowly killing myself or others, and damn it feels (tastes) so good.
But, do we know salt will cause harm to us in the future? If so, how much?
People can point to statistics and say salt is a factor in high blood pressure and heart disease. Others may point to statistics showing that, globally, that is not always the case. In the case of salt, many of the producers of salt-laden product have come to an agreement to voluntarily reduce their usage of salt in their products. In many ways, this is a much more palatable way of reducing 'sin' when compared to a forced taxation. But, I've come to learn that large corporations usually don't do something on purpose to hurt their bottom line - so one has to wonder if this is a temporary PR move that can enable companies to get on-board the 'health' train. I hope it isn't - if not it's a huge plus for Bloomberg and I give him kudos for getting around having to tax the salt out of peoples' mouths.