Meat Will Get TAXED By 2030!
My father once told me that the most effective way of inflicting change, is through the pocketbook.
In previous videos we’ve seen that there are externalized costs regarding the meat industry. Externalized costs are the opposite to internalized costs and are the costs that you do not pay for, when you originally buy a product.
For example chewing gums impose externalized costs on society, as most of them will end up on the street or under tables where they need to get removed by a cleaner.
David Robinson Simon, a business lawyer and author of the book ‘Meatonomics’, writes:
“The hidden costs associated with animal foods are about the same as all state and federal spending on Medicaid, or about $20 billion dollars more than Russia’s annual government budget. However you look at this number, it’s huge. […] 414 billion.”
While the majority of the costs are healthcare related, there are subsidies, cruelty and environmental costs that fill a good chart of the cost pie.
And 414 billion are essentially costs that we, as taxpayers and citizens, are already paying. The question is not then, from where do we get the money, but how do we end up distributing it?
One way of realigning that cost is through a meat tax – and this may even be achieved until 2030.
Here are three questions that you will learn the answer for today.
1. Is taxing meat effective?
2. How hard should we tax?
3. Why until 2030?
Let’s start by tackling the first question:
1. Is taxing meat effective?
In the United States, cigarettes are getting taxed at a federal, state and even city level. In New York City, a pack of cigarettes selling for $11 is secretly containing taxes in the amount of $5.85.
And as you might guess: These taxes do work.
Some studies show that just a 10 percent cigarette tax reduces the consumption by 4 to 14 percent.
On the other hand, meat taxes also obviously increase tax revenues. 2007 in Texas a cigarette tax hike of $1 per pack increased state tax revenues in the first year by more than $1 billion – while lowering cigarette sales in the state by 21 percent.
While there were multiple factors influencing the decline of overall cigarette consumption over the yeras, we can conclude by comparing the US with other countries with no US-regulatory style, that taxes are the most important part of any antismoking campaign.
In Mexico, new tobacco taxes imposed between 1981 and 2007 led to cigarette prices tripling and consumption dropping by half.
The Surgeon General Report on smoking – the official document of professionals claiming for the first time that smoking was bad – was hugely beneficial in minimizing tobacco consumption and so are the restrictions in advertising, but what really seems to move the needle when it comes to behaviour change, is a hole in the pocketbook.
2. How hard should we tax?
Cigarettes in the US are getting taxed by an average of 72 percent. Regarding the externalized cost of animal food consumption – healthcare, subsidies and other costs that lead to over 400 billion, a tax of 50 percent on meat, fish, eggs and dairy is feasible and realistic.
To put this simple: Now a 2 dollar burger would cost 3 dollars. A $10 steak at the supermarket would cost 15 dollars to buy.
Contrary to popular belief, people will not go hungry. Every American taxpayer will get a yearly tax credit averaging 500 dollars – and this includes the 44 percent of Americans that are not paying federal income taxes.
While this will cost the government 78 billion dollars, the meat tax will not only cover this cost, it will also put some good money in the pocket of the government. Why? Patience fellow soyman or woman, patience.
Let’s look at the numbers. A meat tax of 50% will cut US consumption approximately in half and therefore, if we eliminate the government subsidies, save the US nearly $200 billion dollars.
We could expect results like these:
- 172’000 fewer annual deaths of humans from cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
- 26 billion fewer land and sea animal deaths. These are 87 deaths that every American could prevent each year by halving their meat consumption.
- 3.4 trillion pound reduction in annual emission of carbon dioxide equivalents – this is such a huge reduction, that the same effect could only be achieved by forcing every American to sell their cars and walk everywhere they go plus forcing all people that use boats for personal and even commercial reasons to start using motorless viking longboats instead.
- A change by the meat tax would also include a reduction of 440 billion pounds less waste per year. Less shit should always be welcomed by the public.
- 566’000 square miles of extra space would be created. This is one-sixth of the United States -which would no longer be used for animal land. Yep, this is the size twice of Texas.
- On top of that this would put additional 32 billion in the pockets of the US government due to taxes, that can be invested in helping farmers and the industry who raise the animals. That’s by the way what we did with the tobacco industry in 2004 and we can do this again.
3. Why until 2030?
There are 4 reasons a meat tax in the next 10 years will be likely:
1. Economic competition
China is currently working on reducing it’s meat consumption by 50% until 2030. While it’s main focus is on improving dietary patterns by enforcing governmental regulations, a meat tax will be likely to occur.
Why does this matter? Currently China and the US are in a head-on economic trade war. Both sides are interested in increasing economic output and maximizing their efficiency to stay competitive.
If China is reducing their per capita consumption and therefore minimizing their costs, the US probably needs to do that too. It’s as if you had two shops on the same street and one shop is increasing the workweek to 50 hours a week legally – the other shop simply has to do that too.
2. Massive federal debt
Another reason is the federal debt of the United States. On 11th of February 2019 it exceeded 22 trillion. This is more than the economic output of the US in a year and this understandably worries investors, as it’s a sign that the country is probably not able to repay the money anytime soon.
To put this in comparison: In 1988 the debt was only half of America’s annual economic output. One of the most pain-free ways of increasing the debt payback would be to tax an industry that is creating a ton of externalized costs.
3. Climate change
While I’m a huge fan of Elon Musk’s work to advance the transition to sustainable energy with the Tesla company, a full-fledged change of the market in the US will likely not be possible until 2030.
We need to start other measurements – and we need to do this now.
The safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million. We’re currently over 400 parts per million – this is the highest point of atmospheric co2 in all of human existence.
And if we’re continuing to go down that path, our grandkids will actually get the feeling of drowsiness just by playing outside. I mean, on the rare occasions they’re actually capable of playing outsides and are not dealing with debilitating heatwaves or cyclones or typhoons or wildfires.
4. Plant-based meats
Paul Bashir, the founder of Anonymous for the Voiceless, was right when he said that we’re in a transitional period. Especially when it comes to economics.
While the global plant-based meat market was valued at $4 billion dollars in 2017, the company beyond meat just recently hit a value of 10 billion dollars alone. Impossible food achieved a value of $2 billion us dollars in 2019.
While this still pales to the meat industry valuation of $1 trillion dollars, it’s a sign that we’re moving in a different direction. Beyond Meat and Impossible Burgers were almost non-existent 5 years ago and just in this year, Beyond Meat’s valuation tripled.
While taxing animal foods would’ve meant huge job losses 5 years ago and massive compromises in our eating behav ior, we could deal with it more easily in 2019.
“If our slave trade be gone, there’s an end to our lives, beggars all we must be, our children and wives.”
This was a line from a British song, after the government was making moves to ban the slave trade 200 years ago.
Sometimes social, moral and economic progress can mean temporary discomfort for a chosen few.
But I think it’s less uncomfortable than we think.
I mean, take a look at the quote of Caldwell Esselstyn, a heart surgeon: “Half a million people a year will have their chests opened and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. – Some people would call that extreme.”
On top of that a lot of people that work in the animal industry would welcome a change of jobs.
In factory farms employees are twice as likely to suffer a workplace injury and are suffering from psychological stress. Also racism is a significant issue in slaughterhouses. Not only in self-segregating cafeterias or locker rooms, but in the way the work is done:
Whites get the best jobs which is supervision, Native Americans do warehouse work, blacks are on the kill floor and Mexicans are butchering at the bottom.
Farming soybeans would be a welcome change for a worker that used to slit throats.
- [F.J. Chaloupka et al., “Tax, Price and Cigarette Smoking: Evidence from the Tobacco Documents and Implications for Tobacco Company Marketing Strategies,” Tobacco Control 11 (2002): i62 – i72]
- [Hugh Waters et al., The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Taxation in Mexico (Paris: International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, 2010)]
- [Kenneth D. Kochanek et al. “Deaths Preliminary Data for 2009,” US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Vital Statistics Reports 59, no. 4 (2011)]
- [Free from Harm, “59 Billion Land and Sea Animals Killed for Food in the US in 2009” (2011)]
- [https://seekingalpha.com/article/4272009-beyond-meat-beyond-crazy-valuation][Caryl Phillips, The Atlantic Sounds (New York: Random House, 2000) 33-34]
- [Charlie LeDuff, “At a Slaughterhouse, some things never die: Who kills, who cuts, who bosses can depend on Race,” New York Times (June 16, 2000)]