When I heard about Governor Paterson's recent proposal to tax regular soda but not diet soda - as one of an array of measures to 1) help the state overcome its monstrous deficit and 2) cater to the highly influential artificial sweetener lobby - I applauded the idea. And I mean that literally - when I heard about the proposal on the six o'clock news, I stood up and slow-clapped for the better part of five minutes, continuing past the end of the soda-tax story and into the weather report.
The main reason I felt moved to express my support so openly was to annoy my father, who was also watching the news. As a man who drinks over 11 gallons of Pepsi per week, my dad views the soda tax as an assault on his civil liberties - and there's nothing I find more satisfying than treating an assault on someone's civil liberties as a joke. But I had a couple of other reasons for clapping, too.
For one, regular soda contains high-fructose corn syrup, and high-fructose corn syrup contributes to obesity. Diet soda, on the other hand, contains aspartame, and - according to wild, unsubstantiated Internet rumors, which almost always prove to be true - aspartame only contributes to lupus (most "scientists" disagree, of course, but what do they know? Remember that most "scientists" once believed the Earth revolved around the sun - a state of affairs we now understand to be comically inaccurate).
Clearly, then, regular soda poses an even greater health threat to New Yorkers than do tourists from New Jersey (state motto: "The most germ-ridden state in the Union!"), and the governor is right to want to shake down citizens who dare choose to defile their bodies with such a sinister, body-defiling beverage.
Furthermore, I drink diet soda, and I like the idea of the state punishing people whose tastes differ from mine. Also, I figure that as long as the state is fleecing regular soda drinkers, they won't fleece diet soda drinkers, and I'll never have to pay so much as an extra cent to feed my crippling caffeine addiction.