November 12 2012
British-Trinidadian writer V.S. Naipaul once described Denmark in less than flattering terms, saying: "If you are interested in horrible places, I can recommend Denmark. No one starves. Everyone lives in small, pretty houses. But no one is rich, no one has a chance to a life in luxury, and everyone is depressed. Everyone lives in their small well-organized cells with their Danish furniture and their lovely lamps, without which they would go mad."
Given this bleak description, why in the world would the Danish government ever tax the thing that makes these poor people happy? Delicious food. Thankfully, it now appears the Danes are ready to reverse course. According to Agence France Press:
Denmark said Saturday it would scrap a fat tax it introduced a little over a year ago in a world first, saying the measure was costly and failed to change Danes' eating habits.
"The fat tax and the extension of the chocolate tax -- the so-called sugar tax -- has been criticised for increasing prices for consumers, increasing companies' administrative costs and putting Danish jobs at risk," the Danish tax ministry said in a statement.
"At the same time it is believed that the fat tax has, to a lesser extent, contributed to Danes travelling across the border to make purchases," it added.
"Against this background, the government and the (far-left) Red Green Party have agreed to abolish the fat tax and cancel the planned sugar tax," the ministry said.
One hopes the FDA is listening: Denmark's grand anti-obesity experiment failed. It didn't reduce obesity but it did increase people's grocery costs and travel costs and it made people miserable, which, at least according to Naipaul, is hard to do.