Cook County Sugar Tax Should Have Been a Sweet Deal

Cook County Sugar Tax Should Have Been a Sweet Deal

Got to have that sugar! It really doesn’t matter that taxing sugary drinks might have helped to keep Cook County Health Services protecting the poor, disenfranchised, and those that can’t afford health care insurance alive. This might be especially important in this age of Trump and getting rid of the Affordable Care Act (mainly because Obama did it.) It’s much more important to get your drug fix and not have to pay increased taxes for it. At least that’s how it appears to me.

I got an email from a social worker asking if I would pen a support letter for Cook County Health Services. Of course I will and in fact I’ll go one more and write a blog. I’ve really tried not to get too riled about this situation. I have enough stuff to have angst about.  But now…well now is another story. I’m riled.

I heard all the palaver and outrage accusing Cook County Board President Preckwinkle of all manner of things. I heard people attacking Dr. Terry Mason because he attempted to point out how damaging sugar is. Like cigarettes some people will pay whatever to keep themselves on the long path to suicide but don’t tax my sugar addiction. It just is a shame that some people found it an imperative to maintain their sugar addiction at the expense of the Cook County Health Services or for that matter the various other departments in Cook County but more on that later.

We, the citizens of Cook, pulled it off. We shut down the sugar tax! Bravo. I know big agriculture must have cheered. Big agriculture? What do they have to do with this? Well guess where high fructose corn syrup is born.  The U.S. is the largest producer of corn in the world and central Illinois is one of the biggest producers next to Iowa. So, you say that has nothing to do with Cook County. Not so. A goodly percentage of Illinois corn is processed for high fructose corn syrup. It’s a big industry. The intermediately sugary high fructose corn syrup-55, introduced in the late 1970s, is the most commonly used sweetener in U.S. soft drinks. (http://earthsky.org/human-world/a-brief-history-of-high-fructose-corn-syrup). You just need to follow the money to figure out why the corn growers, processors, etc. want to keep us addicted to sugar and one of the best methods of administering the highly addictive substance is in soda ….or if you live in Chicago you may call it pop. Whatever you call it there is big money at stake and the corn industry does not intend to lose one penny of it. So pat yourselves on the back if you hated that tax. You did away with it and I bet the corn growers association won’t even send you a thank you note. On top of that they won’t help pay your medical bills either. So congratulations. We Cook County folks can increase our diabetes rates in peace.

This last part I take very seriously. So excuse me if I appear to be joking or poking fun at the weight challenged. Most of those folks on the stop the tax on my sugar commercials were overweight. Now I am no longer the svelte size eight I once was. I cut out sweet drinks a long time ago. In fact at one time I drank so many diet drinks with aspartame that my body began to show symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. I stopped the pop and the symptoms went away. The basic issue is that all adults have a right to dose themselves with whatever, including sugar. I do have a problem with what this dosing is doing to our children.

Recently I was contacted by a nurse who moved to my community last year. She has seen so many obese children and children with type two diabetes that she is attempting to get grant funding to build a community center dedicated to eating healthy. Type 2 diabetes once was a disease of adults. Until 10 years ago, type 2 diabetes accounted for less than 3% of all cases of new-onset diabetes in adolescents. At present 45% of cases are attributed to it. (http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/34/Supplement_2/S161).

Poor mothers are putting corn syrup sweetened “juice” in infant bottles. Why? Because it is cheaper than sugar free fruit juices. This is crazy!!!! We start addicting our kids to sugar before they can even walk. By the time they reach grammar school where gym has basically gone by the wayside, they are overweight and headed for the big “D” (diabetes), to be followed shortly by hypertension and heart disease.

None of these poor kids will be able to seek medical assistance from a nearly two century old health system because we don’t want to provide funding to keep it going. Of course the sugar tax wasn’t planned to be the only funding source of the Cook County Health Service but it would have benefitted CCHS and other departments.

So perhaps President Preckwinkle should have had some ads, not with Dr. Mason but with a bunch of morbidly obese children in hospital beds over at County. Or maybe she should have shown the departments within the county system with bars across the doors and out of business signs. Don’t laugh. Have you tried to contact departments within Cook County lately only to find that no one answers the phone and if you don’t have a direct dial extension you’re out of luck? I have and that goes back to my earlier statement. More than the CCHS is hurting for operating funds. Never fear. Go out and suck up a good dose of high fructose corn syrup.

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