Acton Institute Powerblog

Would You Like A Tax With Those Fries?

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

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 a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • It seems to me that a great deal more revenue would be raised if some sort of a formula could be devised that would tax the corruption and inefficiency of Detroit’s public officials and city government.

  • McDonald’s cumple 50 años.
    “Los arcos dorados de McDonald están en todas partes y el viernes se
    cumplirán 50 años desde que un vendedor de máquinas de batidos de leche
    y helado abrió su primer restaurante en este suburbio de Chicago.” [Yahoo] Más>>

    cuenta actualmente con más de 28 mil restaurantes en todo el mundo y 45
    millones de consumidores diarios. Una empresa que sabe orientarse al
    cliente y a su accionista:

    “Instead of opening lots
    of new restaurants, McDonald’s has switched to generating more sales
    from its existing ones. This year, some 90% of McDonald’s growth is
    likely to come from incremental sales at its existing restaurants,
    compared with around half last year. Last year, its restaurants
    worldwide generated an additional $400m to take annual positive
    cashflow to $3.3 billion. In September, McDonald’s said it would use
    its cash pile to boost its annual dividend for the second consecutive
    year, pay down $600m-700m in debt and spend up to $1.6 billion opening
    some new restaurants (often in places like China), but mostly in doing
    up its existing ones”. [] Más >>

    a celebrarlo con buenos resultados: “El grupo McDonald´s elevó un 4,6%
    su cifra de negocio en el primer trimestre, en datos comparables, lo
    que supone alcanzar un octavo trimestre consecutivo de crecimiento,
    indicó hoy el grupo en un comunicado. McDonald´s estimó que el
    beneficio por acción en los primeros tres meses se situará en torno a
    los 0,56 dólares, un 40% más…” [Europa Press] Más >>

    Y como anotan en el Blog del Acton Institute para los histéricos nutricionistas que quieren imponer con prohibiciones al resto de la sociedad sus modelos dietéticos:

    “Hoy por hoy, en el transcurso de la tradición Cristiana se ve la gula como un pecado. Pero como Santo Tomás de Aquino escribió:
    “la gula no es ningún deseo de comer o beber, sino un deseo
    inmoderado”, y en este caso, tiene mayor peso la pregunta de quién
    tiene mayor gula: el consumidor de fast food que pide un pack de
    comida, o el Estado que continuamente busca nuevas formas de alimentar
    su voraz apetito.” [Acton Institute PowerBlog] Más>>

  • Fast Food Tax Redux
    As I alerted you to more than three weeks ago, Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has proposed a 2% tax on fast food restaurants, in a vain attempt to cover the city’s fiscal woes. Here’s a sneak preview to this week’s A