Wednesday, August 9, 2017

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     Grocery shopping has much weird psychology to it. The one-way doors, the music, the dairy in the back. The allure of end-caps. It doesn't all make sense, but that's people for you.
     Add the nostalgia of familiar brands; reach for a box of Maypo and I'm back in the Pick & Pay with my mom in Berea, Ohio in 1966. The satisfaction of food. The dizzying abundance.  It's never as simple as picking up a loaf of bread.
     I haven't even mentioned price. As a successful man of the world, I seldom pay attention to prices. It's a supermarket; whatever I buy here is going to be far less than the steak sandwich at Gene & Georgetti. The fact that I'm food shopping at all is sacrifice enough; don't ask me to cut coupons too.
     So Toni Preckwinkle's sweetened beverage tax almost blew past me. My heart wasn't awash with sympathy for anyone upset over an additional 12 cents for a can of soda. If that 12 cents helps weave together the fraying social safety net, well, happy to do my civic duty.
     Then my wife came home Sunday waving her Sunset Foods receipt. Dasani sparkling flavored waters, on sale, three eight packs for $6.99. Plus the new Cook County sweetened beverage tax of $2.88.
     Quite a lot really.

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12 comments:

  1. This tax will not do a damned thing to "weave together the fraying social safety net"! The county doesn't need any more money. Just go into the County Building & you'll see dozens & dozens of people who are doing nothing but standing around & getting huge paychecks, along with the obscenely large pensions they'll get when they retire far earlier than everyone who is on Social Security can retire. Plus their pensions are at least what those on Social Security get & pensioners get a guaranteed 3% COLA every year, as opposed to Social Security's less than 1% in most years, except when the SSA COLA is ZERO!
    Watch when Taxwinkle gives more pay raises to C[r]ook County employees, just like she did after the 1% sales tax was imposed 18 months ago.

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  2. It's hard to believe sunset actively WANTS to be sued but that's pretty much what they've said. Heck, they seem to want to make it possible to be liable for intentionally wrongly taking your money and set themselves up for extra "punitive " damages. I'm wondering if someone higher up is going to catch wind of this and fix it pronto.

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  3. often referred to as a "sin tax" when applied to tobacco and alcohol products the psychology of these taxes is interesting as well. their weighted affect on poorer people , the idea that certain foods aren't foods ( candy and chips) and thus aren't exempt under the lower sales tax provision for food products. to say nothing of what you can't buy with WIC cards. but thats another story ."weaving together the fraying social safety net" while a noble notion . the net is full of holes and the people falling through are many. this tax won't fix that. I don't know if the revenue from this tax is earmarked into a certain budget, but it does always make me wonder how a state with one of the highest sales taxes in the country can be broke. and a city with the highest sales tax in the country can be broke too! WTF?

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  4. The problem I see with these noble notions of increasing the cost of certain disfavored actions is that the focus remains on the income derived -- the hypocrisy is blatant. And in this case, Preckwinkle only made the focus more intense by talking about layoffs if the tax wasn't implemented. I think society at large would like to see the consumption of sugary drinks go down, the incidence of running red lights decrease, cigarette use to dwindle, but only we few who don't drink Coke, never run red lights and quit smoking when cigarettes were a quarter a pack favor taxing bad behavior.

    john

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    1. Nicely put, John. And I thought Neil's investigative foray into grocery-land worthwhile. The surprise ending reminded me that starting a college course in cost accounting I had assumed it would be of mind-deadening dullness, but found the subject, at its higher levels, one of theological complexity. It also gave me sympathy for my, parents, who operated a 'mom and pop' grocery store in depression years when they had to carry a goodly number of their customers and make up the difference with cost shifting.

      Tom

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  5. Preckwinkle pulled the plug on her lawsuit against IRMA. Smart move. That blunder would have ended her political career.

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    1. No, the pop tax & the 1% sales have ended her political career!

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    2. Maybe, but that stuff is a normal, every day battle for a politician. She'll probably manage to stay afloat. However, that strong-arm lawsuit would've pulled anyone under.

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  6. I'm mainly surprised that you're not treated like the mayor, or something, at your local Sunset Foods, NS. In general, then especially if you have a complaint. I'd think for some it would be difficult not to pull out the "Do you know who I am?" card. I wonder if the exchange would have gone any differently if they'd known it would be in the paper in 2 days. But I thought SF was known for customer service, regardless of if the customer was Chicago's most beloved columnist. Thus, this column is pretty surprising to me, all around.

    I feel bad for folks stuck with this tax, but like Tate, above, it doesn't affect me. I quit drinking pop years ago, though I used to love nothing more than draining 44-ounce boatloads of Coke at 7-11 for years. The idea of paying an additional 44 cents on the dollar or so that I paid for those would have been irksome, indeed.

    The "psychology involved with grocery shopping" is very interesting to me, and so much more fun to consider than Il Douche's latest affront. On Twitter, lots of folks are showing receipts for pop, with the obnoxious tax either correctly or incorrectly applied. One guy showed a 2-liter bottle of Coke he'd bought for $2.45 at a convenience store, then with the 68-cent tax. He was outraged about the tax, of course. I just thought, "Hell, buddy, you could have saved twice that much if you bought the pop somewhere else to begin with."

    I find my attitude toward the 7-cent bag charge in Chicago fascinating. I could (and do) buy a pint of craft beer in a bar for $6. The same beer in a bottle in a store would cost $2.22 for the same amount. That difference in price would pay for 54 grocery bags @ 7 cents each. Does this mean that I don't bend over backwards to avoid paying the 7 cents? No. I've yet to pay for a freaking grocery bag. Why? Because I'm an idiot!

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    1. When the plastic bag tax first went into effect Pete's Fresh Foods charged ten cents for a bag, but they gave you a sturdy, heavy duty bag that's great for garbage. Never rips, never leaks, perfect for backing up the flimsier bags one gets from Jewel.

      john

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  7. Though I do clip food coupons on occasion -- from the Sunday Sun-Times, natch -- I don't particularly base my purchasing decisions on cost. I figure, if I like something, why quibble about a few extra quarters. But this new tax is going to be a huge headache; I read Walgreens is already being sued for charging it incorrectly.

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  8. A class action suit. Over a new, hugely misunderstood, sales tax. Good grief. THAT'S the story. It's a Seinfeld episode. In fact, the very busy lady on the register closest to the door at Walgreens failed to greet me as I walked in yesterday. I will be contacting my lawyer. What a world.

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