Stupid and stupider

Sometimes I think I’d be a lot happier if I just stopped reading the newspaper altogether.

I mean, really?:

The committee didn’t look at economic factors it ran out of time, and “the majority (of members) felt they couldn’t trust economists,” Travis said.

I don’t follow Berkeley politics and planning beyond what I see in the newspaper, so I’m crossing my fingers that this is some kind of mistake on the part of the reporter. Something tells me it isn’t, though. But…seriously? A committee charged with creating a plan to revitalize downtown Berkeley didn’t look at economic factors because they felt they couldn’t trust economists? O.M.G. I have no words. That is like, the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

Oh, wait. I spoke too soon. This is:

After banning plastic bags from chain grocery stores and bottled water from City Hall, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has set his sights on soda – working up a plan to charge a new city fee to big retailers of sugar drinks.

“The bottom line is that there is a direct nexus between high-fructose corn syrup drinks like colas and Big Gulps and obesity among schoolkids,” Newsom said Friday.

Look, I’m not fan of HFCS and don’t really drink soda myself (I prefer bourbon, admittedly not a health food), but what is the logic here? Sugary sodas cause obesity among children. We want to discourage obesity among children. So to discourage the kids from drinking soda, Newsom wants to tax large retailers who sell soda. So this isn’t an actual tax on individual units of all HFCS drinks (small stores are exempt, bizarely), not that that would matter anyway, since the parents are the ones paying for the damn drinks in the first place, and if Coke raising the price of a bottle 10 cents doesn’t stop them, the City of San Francisco charging an extra 10 cents won’t either. The shrieking of greedy brats beats out cost concerns every time. And I doubt that there is any fee high enough that it would persuade any retailer to stop selling sodas, which are (unfortunately) immensely popular items. So I really can’t see any way that this fee in itself is going to reduce consumption of sodas, particularly among children.

But then I read further, and see that the fee is going to pay for some kind of anti-soda public education campaign. Okay, maybe I could deal with that. I like public education campaigns (although judging from the enormous amount of unsolicited bitching I have to listen to about those Ron Dellums AIDs posters all over town, I think I might be the only one). But then I see this:

The size of the fee (it won’t be billed as a tax) is being worked out, but it may include a sweetener – namely giving the stores some other kind of fee break.

So, SF is going to pay for an anti-soda campaign by assessing a soda fee on soda retailers, but is going to make the whole thing more palatable by giving them a break on fees they’re already paying, which, if they’re so dispensable in the first place, could probably be used on their own to pay for the anti-soda campaign? O.M.G. Does this plan have any purpose at all?

And by the way, the only reason I’m even bringing this up is because I know that it’s going to take like a week after SF passes the damn thing for one of our more useless Councilmembers to introduce a copycat plan for Oakland and I just wanted to get ahead of the game in calling it brain-dead.

One thought on “Stupid and stupider

  1. dto510

    Berkeley’s Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee was analagous to Oakland’s Blue Ribbon Commission – made up primarily of ideologues who entered the process with a policy goal and were determined to see it through, no matter how much evidence piled up against it. In Berkeley’s case, what this quote refers to is the reluctance of a slim majority of the panel to approve height limits over ten stories, which developers and economists said were needed to provide enough profit to pay for the community benefits envisioned by the plan. Developers said they couldn’t build anything between five and sixteen stories (five is profitable, above fifteen is profitable, nothing in-beween), and the panel didn’t believe them, and fixed heights at round eight stories, which is actually how they are now. The fact that Berkeley already as two sixteen-story buildings didn’t seem to matter.

    If you ever think Oakland’s planning discussion is depressing and backwards-looking, just read the Berkeley Daily Planet.