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My fellow citizens! Our local government has recently announced that they plan to impose a new tax on sweetened beverages, following the example of Berkeley. As you know, they already tried to introduce a similar tax in the fall of 2014, but it failed because we rejected it. Despite our previous refusal to accept this tax, the governors continue their efforts, using the universal concern about sugar and its negative impact on the human body, pretending to care about our health. They also ignore the social context: they know that this tax will be a severe burden to the poor and do-little harm to the wealthy. Considering these facts, I strongly recommend that you vote it down.
As you obviously know, it is the people who must be the true governor of the United States. We delegate our rights to the government, including the local government of San Francisco, so that they can perform the measures that are beneficial to us. To know whether the measures that they have enacted are beneficial or not, they ask (or we expect them to ask) our feedback. Only having taken our feedback into consideration, the statesmen should proceed or stop working in a particular direction.
In November 2014, the government proposed us to present our opinion regarding the so-called soda tax via voting. We did present our opinion, and it was negative. The measure needed two-thirds of voters to say “yes” since it had to assign money for a specific purpose. It got slightly more than a half. It is quite obvious that the people of San Francisco did not want this tax.
Now, in less than two years, they ask us to vote on the same tax again. Nothing could actually change in such a short period. It is clear that the local government is ignoring the popular feedback that it received that fall. Instead, they hope that if they formulate their proposition in a different way, we will be so blind as to accept it.
Using the Agenda
Not only do the public officials of San Francisco ignore our feedback, but they also use the current health agenda so artfully that some San Franciscans already begin to believe that the tax is beneficial for our health. As all of us know, in our times, a healthy lifestyle is a top priority. Many people are trying to form healthy food habits. Online journals, TV shows, newspapers speak of the severe danger that sugar poses to our health. Many Americans are doing their best to exclude sugar from their diet.
This hysteria creates the political stream, i.e. the public concern that presents an opportunity to enact a particular policy. Next goes the policy stream, which is the measures that statesmen propose to deal with the issue.
Dear citizens, our task is to create the problem stream. It is a serious obstacle that the policy meets. The simple reason why we should do this is that the politicians are hardly worried about our health. If they were concerned about the sugar in our diet, they would enact an educating campaign, ban the beverages that contain sugar or encourage the production of sugar-free beverages. Instead, they are proposing a soda tax because the only thing they need is higher revenue.
While the local government manages to recognize and use the current agenda, it fails to perceive the social context, in which the current events are unfolding. It is a known fact that San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities to live in the entire country. In our city, a great income gap exists. There are wealthy neighborhoods, and there are disadvantaged neighborhoods. If a San Franciscan is wealthy, they know they do not have to worry about food. If they want healthy, green, nutritious food, they will buy it without any concerns. However, if a San Franciscan is poor, the picture is entirely different.
This disadvantaged person most likely cannot afford a lot of healthy food. They will rather buy cheaper food that would give them a high level of food energy. Sugar is a rich source of food energy, as professionals say. Therefore, instead of helping San Franciscans to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which is the excuse of our government, the soda tax would limit the access of the poor citizens to food energy. During the November vote, it was the poor neighborhoods that rejected the tax; the wealthy ones supported it. The local government either does not understand or ignores this problem.
Call to Action
By this memorandum, fellow citizens, I would like to call you to action. I have demonstrated that the local politicians pay no attention to our feedback, use the public concern over health issues, and ignore the social context in order to push us to vote in favor of the new tax. What I am proposing is to vote it down. Moreover, you should spread the information presented in this memorandum. Post it on the Internet, give it to your friends and colleagues, talk about it at family meetings. We should protect our city from this unjust tax.