The Seattle Way: Tax Soda, Subsidize Heroin All in the Cause of Public Health

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s proposal to slap a new tax on sugary drinks to promote good public health has irked at least one of the city’s restaurant owners. It should be angering even more Seattle business owners and residents, though not for the obvious reasons.

The mayor’s crusade exposes real inconsistencies and skewed priorities in the city’s approach to critical public health issues. Spoiler alert: Seattle is moving toward subsidizing and enable the use of destructive, addictive, and life-threatening illegal drugs such as heroin with so-called safe injection sites. I’ll get to that a little further down the page, but first…

The city’s lack of response to one White Center restaurant owner’s concerns about Murray’s proposed tax on soda pop prompted a protest of sorts.

Ryan Hopkins, owner of Burger Boss Drive-In, is using his roadside sign to let people know how the proposed tax would affect his customers, and how he feels about it. According to KING-TV:

It’s been pretty quiet around Seattle since Mayor Ed Murray proposed a tax on soda and other sugary drinks, but one small business owner is firing back.

Ryan Hopkins owns Burger Boss Drive-in and said he recently learned that the mayor’s idea could force him to raise prices on his large soda to more than $5.

He called City Hall, and when he didn’t get a response, he posted an eye-catching message outside his restaurant to get some attention.


Hopkins says he’s contacted the mayor in hopes of having a conversation but has yet to receive a response.

The initial outline for Murray’s soda tax proposed adding 2 cents per ounce for sugary beverages, though the details will not be disclosed until legislation is presented to the City Council. Why does Murray believe the new social engineering tax is necessary? Why, public health, of course. From The Seattle Times:

Murray has given two reasons for the tax on sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweetened teas and more: improve health by reducing consumption of sugary drinks, and fund education programs aimed at improving the graduation rate of minority youth.

The mayor even compared sugary drinks to tobacco, saying “sugar is as bad as cigarettes in how we consume it,” on The Seattle Times’ politics podcast.

Let’s assume that Murray is right about the dire risk from drinking soda pop. Wouldn’t a safe soda consumption center be more consistent with the current dogma that pervades Seattle’s public health infrastructure? Those seeking the fizzy giddy rush of a cola would enter a community facility, guzzle their syrupy beverages in a supervised and non-judgmental environment, and then be sent on their merry way.

Of course, this is an absurd idea and not only because if a safe soda site was as “effective” in affecting health outcomes as Vancouver, B.C.’s safe injection site, Seattle would need to brace for a diabetes explosion.

No, the irony here is obvious: If drinking soda is bad enough that the city has to impose negative incentives to curb its use, is heroin – an illegal substance to begin with – less bad? Obviously, it is not less bad; it is much, much worse.

Nevertheless, Seattle’s leaders, elected by Seattle’s citizens, may this year choose to subsidize one activity that 100% of health experts agree poses lethal risk while punishing another behavior that is relatively benign by comparison. I feel safe in assuming that the risk of death by overdose after drinking a 64-ounce cola is as close to zero as actuaries can ever be comfortable stating.

Maybe this ideologically pure but logically backward way of thinking is one reason why Snohomish and Pierce Counties are leading the nation in net migration while Seattle-dominated King County lags.

[Featured image credit: Adobe Stock]


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  1. AmericanFaith

    Mayer Ed Murry has turned seattle into a laughing stock to the rest of the Nation…and the Governor of Washington state is a black eye…

  2. Sondra

    All I can say about this… Though, not till I Got to the place in the read where I started laughing!!! Here it is…” Ryan Hopkins Dear, I am so sorry Sir, that you were experiencing quiet times with no biz over the lil ole soda tax, it was to assist your neighbor as yourself, as in the Neighborly way. Ya Know Just in case of ..hmmm…Oh, ya know, like addiction? Homelessness, Hardships causes illness or of the like… ??? Now let me tell you there is nothing of the like, the kind, the sort, ..soda is the least of our problems you lil Shit! Knock it off with the distractive whining! Jerk!

  3. Elaine

    What about controlling and “taxing” the supply of drugs? Have you thought about it, or is this too simplistic? However, the Seattle way is to provide sanctuary for drug dealers and suppliers. The Trump phenomenon did not happen by itself; perpetual lawlessness and lack of discipline and serious punishment for the criminal and the abuser has created it. Yes, pop prices have a profit margin but it also gives you a choice to eat the hamburger and skip the pop. This will also indirectly cause the price of hamburger to go up.

  4. Tracy Roberts

    Christine Gregoire did a poor job of explaining a tax on candy and sugary drinks years ago and because of her failure to get it passed, it failed. Candy and sugary drinks are a luxury, not healthy and by adding a tax, you hopefully decrease the amount sold and with the raised money, support programs witbout cutting other services.
    Mayor Murray is explaining clearly where the money will go and everyone is aware of that.
    There will be at least two Safe Consumption Spaces, not injection sites as people are calling them. They are not just for heroin. They will be for all injectible drugs as well as inhaled/smoked drugs. The latter will be in a ventilated space.
    You cannot force someone into recovery or rehab and expect them to stay clean, just like you can’t expect someone to go to the gym daily just because you buy a membership for them. Tell someone that they can’t consume any sugar. How many people go on a diet only to slip and eat something they ‘shouldn’t’ or ‘isn’t allowed’? The SCSs will keep someone safe until they are ready to come off drugs. The cleanliness and access to help and support will save money. There will be less call outs for the police, medics, Fire dept, less hospital visits, admissions, surgeries, rehab, doctors and clinic visits. People who are ready to come off the drugs will return to work, pay taxes, be your neighbor, your friend. Isn’t an increase of 25 or 50 cents of something you don’t need worth all of that? Just because your addictions are different to someone else’s doesn’t mean they deserve less love and support.

    • Austin Wilsey

      the problem is none of the money in this state goes where we are told it will.

    • But do you really think it’s the place of government to concern itself with the things you eat and drink? I mean, I don’t. I feel like, as an adult, it’s up to me to decide those things for myself, and not for the government to involve itself in any way.

  5. Lea Black

    Mayor Murray has a number of ways for citizens to weigh in on issues, so quit being a hateful troll and actually tell him directly what you think. I love our Mayor. He talks regularly with mayors of other cities to find out how they are responding to the same issues. He cares deeply about Seattle citizens and he is trying to take action on the multitude of issues our city faces. He is genuine.

  6. steve denard

    Yep liberalism is a mental order!! Just tax everything that fixes all the problems! Global warming put a tax on it, sodas aren’t good for you put a tax on it!! Wanna support hardcore drug users put a tax on it! Wtf !! In a state where weed is legal and you get drug tested even though it’s legal!!! Oh yea that has a tax on it too …silly me! With the laws the are dreaming up they got to be on heroin.. and talking to the mayor would do no good! You can’t argue logic to a idiot..

    • Art

      Sounds like another Trumpiter. Taxes make this world go round little buddy. If you have anything to do with cash, it’s gonna be taxed. A conspiracy theorist would see that we’re slowly being destroyed from within.

    • Lea Black

      You are obviously extremely hateful and angry.

  7. Jess

    This mayor is a complete fool. I will miss the city, but this administration is destroying that beauty that seattle once had.

  8. Dick

    Supporting illegal causes that do not benefit the electorate but only take money from the working community and penalizing legal businesses that employ people on a variety of levels is the Seattle way.

  9. Linda

    This article is simplistic and inflamatory. The two are unrelated. The margins on soda in a restaurant are extremely high. This guy doesn’t need to charge $5 for a soda. Second, they are trying to address the heroin epidemic, maybe you should delve into the reasons why safe injection sites may be a solution. Addicts are human beings with an illness. They deserve help as much as anyone, if you don’t agree it’s because you don’t understand addiction. These sites may be a way to reach people and get them help but at the very least keep them from dying in the meantime and keep the paraphernalia out of your neighborhood. I think perhaps you know all that, but it doesn’t make for such an outrageous article. What’s your great idea for helping the heroin epidemic? I think if you knew someone who has been touched by this you might wish to think more creatively rather then just condemn and toss…..and seriously? Who cares about soda? They need revenue. I’m not an addict. I rarely drink alcohol. When I go out for a “drink” I order soda. It already costs $2.50 for about 10 cents worth of product. So suck it up or charge me $2.75. This is what you’re crying about??? Not that the two are related but we are talking about saving lives here and getting addicts to a safe place where maybe we can intervene and maybe your child won’t die and at the very least you won’t have to look at it seems worth trying. I’ll bet a lot of money can be saved in emergency response teams as well.

    • SurfMonkey

      You can’t save lives- The people need to want to change their ways and save themselves; it’s not our job. And our taxes shouldn’t be used for this.

    • Sean

      That’s the typical illitest liberal response, you actually have the audacity to tell him what to charge you for a pop then tell him how much to pay his employees (I’m sure you voted for that) and tell him how rich he is. You and illitest’s pigs like you are the reason we are stuck with Trump. Oh and Heroin is illegal and is 100% guaranteed to damage your health.

      • Erik

        “Elitist” – no argument, just trying to help.

        • Erik

          Or wait…maybe you meant to do that…ILL- litist. Nice wordplay.

    • steve denard

      I think you should house all the addicts at your place!!! That way we won’t have to worry about the burden being taxed!! Since you don’t mind spending money out of your pocket!! Hey if you don’t like my answer suck it up buttercup… Because that’s exactly what you just told everyone else to do!!

    • Sondra

      I couldnt have said it better <3

  10. Medoro

    Jeff, they get elected by other idiots

  11. Brian O'Kelley

    What happened to “My body, my choice”? While I think Murray and his progressive minions are uniformly idiotic, some consistency across policies/causes would be nice.

    • Wicked Woman

      That’s lib-speak for abortions. That’s all they care about. That and drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.

  12. Jeff

    How do these idiots get elected?

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