It’s time for another visit to Kenney Land, the magical kingdom in which victims are blamed for the misery in which they find themselves.
I’m talking about the so-called soda tax -- on “sugary drinks” -- that encompasses more than 1,000 items, including diet soda with no sugar at all.
In the first week after consumers noticed it -- many were clueless about the tax passed last year -- there were screams of anguish as prices went up by 20, 30, 50, as much as 100 percent.
The screams came both from consumers and retailers, especially corner grocery stores. There was a distinct lack of empathy from Mayor Kenney.
“You have cranky people who complain,” the man with the legendary explosive temperament told Fox 29 reporter Bruce Gordon. “It’ll subside and we’ll move on.”
He’s probably right about that because in three years the tax will be part of the fabric of life and people will either pay it or escape it by switching to a non-taxed beverage or switching to a retailer outside the city limits and beyond the reach of the ravenous tax collector.
About the same time the tax went into effect, City Controller Alan Butkovitz issued a report saying cigarette tax revenues would fall $26 million below the anticipated $72 million this year. Cigarette sales were down and “half of Philadelphia’s decline could be a result of people buying cigarettes outside of the city,” the report said.
The cigarette tax, enacted more than two years ago, was for the school district, while the soda tax was to pay for pre-K. As it turns out it will be spent on a bunch of other things, too.
When Gordon pressed Kenney on the effects of the tax, the mayor, echoing Marie Antoinette’s “Let them eat cake,” said, “Your life doesn't depend on soda. So it’s not like an elixir of life that you need to drink every day or you die.”
Turning from consumer to retailer, Mayor Unhinged told KYW NewsRadio he blamed store owners for “gouging their own customers.” While there have been scattered reports of overcharging, sometimes coming from the complexity of the tax, most stores passed along the tax because they had to. Kenney was being disingenuous when he said the tax, applied to wholesalers, didn't have to be passed along. Either that or he doesn't understand business.
Could be both as the only thing he had come close to running was his own taxpayer-funded City Council office.
His callous attitude toward the businesses which support the city's economic life and the people who provide its tax base is remarkable and lamentable. If you are a garden variety, law-abiding, tax-paying citizen, Kenney hasn't much sympathy for you.
But if you are here illegally, a drug user or an ex-con, he's got your back. That's how he rolls in Kenney Land.