Would you like a tax with those fries?
Religion & Liberty Online

Would you like a tax with those fries?

On this date in 1955, Ray Kroc starts the McDonald’s chain of fast food restaurants in Illinois.

On a related note, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is the latest political figure to float the idea of a “fast food tax,” the newest incarnation of the “sin” tax. The reasoning is that fast foods, which tend to be higher in fat and cholesterol than other types of food, are unhealthy, and therefore worthy of special government attention.

The Detroit Free Press editorial page goes Kilpatrick one better, however, suggesting that the government “tax take-out food statewide — but by calories, not cost.”

Now of course the Christian tradition views gluttony as a sin. But as Thomas Aquinas writes, “Gluttony denotes, not any desire of eating and drinking, but an inordinate desire.” And in this case, it is worth asking which is more gluttonous: the fast food consumer who orders a combo meal, or the State which constantly seeks new ways to feed its ever-voracious appetite.

Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.