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N.M. v. Gamers: Proposing Tax on Video Games to Fight Obiesity...

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    ElkiElki get busy Moderator, ClubPA Mod Emeritus
    edited January 2008
    ege02 wrote: »
    Elki wrote: »
    Adrien wrote: »
    ege02 wrote: »
    Elki wrote: »
    Taxing a TV is only going to discourage people from buying bigger, more expensive TVs, not TVs altogether. So, unless there's some evidence that people get considerably fatter while sitting on front of more expensive TVs I'm gonna say this is pretty dumb.

    I don't think they get fatter watching more expensive TVs, but I think they watch TV more often if it's a nice, expensive TV.

    That seems like very shaky reasoning.

    Because it is. Cheaper TVs aren't all that crappy. Going down from 1080p to 720p or something with lower contrast isn't going to make anyone watch less TV.

    You misunderstood. My reasoning is that they'd watch TV more often to justify the big purchase. The human mind has this fallacious habit of making decisions based on sunk costs.

    Sunk cost does not come into play here. It's a 1% tax. If you had a $1,000 to spend on a TV, you'll to buy a $990 TV instead of a $1,000 TV. You'd have to make it an absolutely ridiculous tax before it starts having any impact.

    Elki on
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    ÆthelredÆthelred Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I'm surprised nobody mentioned cell phones in this electronic devices = insomnia debate. There have been a fair few studies showing that cell phone use is affecting young people's sleep in particuar - if they get a text late at night, they won't go to sleep until they've answered it; then another one comes back etc.
    Either way, I'm not sure how sleep deprivation leads to obesity.

    You eat more when you're awake more.

    Shift workers have terrible health.

    Æthelred on
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    ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    All that first report seems to suggest is 'it is difficult to fall asleep while doing something' (like blogging or myspacing). Well, duh. It's difficult to fall asleep doing anything, because you're focusing on doing it rather than relaxing. So yeah, sitting in front of your computer reading the internet or playing games isn't likely to result in you sleeping. What the other links suggest is doing relaxing things before bedtime (one of them even recommends computer games). Playing exciting games or getting involved in an internet debate shortly before lights out is obviously going to get the adrenaline going and result in you taking longer to relax and fall asleep, but so is reading an exciting novel.

    . . .

    What the study found is a direct causal relationship between electronic media use (active OR passive) and sleep depravity, and sleep depravity is a contributing factor to obesity. I don't know how much more clear cut it can get before you comprehend the point.

    Even if you're simply watching TV, the effect of staring at a bright screen messes up your internal clock. It might help some people fall asleep, but the fact of the matter is that they won't sleep as well as someone who doesn't stare at a bright screen before bed. This means that watching an action movie right before bed is worse than reading an action novel, and watching a mellow movie is worse than reading a mellow novel. Get it?

    ege02 on
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    ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Elki wrote: »
    ege02 wrote: »
    Elki wrote: »
    Adrien wrote: »
    ege02 wrote: »
    Elki wrote: »
    Taxing a TV is only going to discourage people from buying bigger, more expensive TVs, not TVs altogether. So, unless there's some evidence that people get considerably fatter while sitting on front of more expensive TVs I'm gonna say this is pretty dumb.

    I don't think they get fatter watching more expensive TVs, but I think they watch TV more often if it's a nice, expensive TV.

    That seems like very shaky reasoning.

    Because it is. Cheaper TVs aren't all that crappy. Going down from 1080p to 720p or something with lower contrast isn't going to make anyone watch less TV.

    You misunderstood. My reasoning is that they'd watch TV more often to justify the big purchase. The human mind has this fallacious habit of making decisions based on sunk costs.

    Sunk cost does not come into play here. It's a 1% tax. If you had a $1,000 to spend on a TV, you'll to buy a $990 TV instead of a $1,000 TV. You'd have to make it an absolutely ridiculous tax before it starts having any impact.

    It doesn't have to be absolutely ridiculous. Sure, 1% is too little, but 10% would make a noticeable difference, and it's not "absolutely ridiculous".

    ege02 on
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    KevinNashKevinNash Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Irond Will wrote: »
    Prices incent behavior. Just making people take the time to cook isn't really going to do anything, since Hamburger Helper is probably the easiest thing to cook. And granted that there are massive grey areas there in terms of "healthy" or "unhealthy" foods. Still, it's possible to draw some broad lines.

    Prices definitely incent behavior, but I think it's fair to assume that they will incent it along the path of least resistance. What's easier, buying a cheaper version of the same shit you always buy, or switching up your lifestyle?

    To the extent that the cigarette taxes work - and I think it's a very small extent - it's based on the fact that it's a fucking huge tax, larger than the price difference between most competing brands. I mean, we're talking $2-3 a pack on a $5 pack of cigarettes.

    Like I said, if the tax is ginormous - like a 30% tax on junk food and teevees - I can see it having a disincentive effect. Otherwise, it'll just promote cheaper brands.

    How does the US justify massive taxes on stuff like cigarettes and alcohol? In the UK it's pretty clear cut - cigarette smoking leads to an increased load on our National Health Service, ergo the smokers pay more to contribute towards the cost of that extra load (or stop smoking because it's to expensive, thus reducing the overall load). In the US, you have a private health industry payed for via health insurance. I can see the insurers charging a higher premium to high-risk candidates such as smokers, but how does the government justify the levy?

    Because we still have Medicare and numerous state funded healthcare programs that give them an excuse to tax them. Also smoking is really unpopular and it's politically easy to tax, even if the funding isn't going to health-care (it often isn't).

    The notion that the US is a completely private system is inaccurate.

    KevinNash on
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    ElkiElki get busy Moderator, ClubPA Mod Emeritus
    edited January 2008
    ege02 wrote: »
    Elki wrote: »
    ege02 wrote: »
    Elki wrote: »
    Adrien wrote: »
    ege02 wrote: »
    Elki wrote: »
    Taxing a TV is only going to discourage people from buying bigger, more expensive TVs, not TVs altogether. So, unless there's some evidence that people get considerably fatter while sitting on front of more expensive TVs I'm gonna say this is pretty dumb.

    I don't think they get fatter watching more expensive TVs, but I think they watch TV more often if it's a nice, expensive TV.

    That seems like very shaky reasoning.

    Because it is. Cheaper TVs aren't all that crappy. Going down from 1080p to 720p or something with lower contrast isn't going to make anyone watch less TV.

    You misunderstood. My reasoning is that they'd watch TV more often to justify the big purchase. The human mind has this fallacious habit of making decisions based on sunk costs.

    Sunk cost does not come into play here. It's a 1% tax. If you had a $1,000 to spend on a TV, you'll to buy a $990 TV instead of a $1,000 TV. You'd have to make it an absolutely ridiculous tax before it starts having any impact.

    It doesn't have to be absolutely ridiculous. Sure, 1% is too little, but 10% would make a noticeable difference, and it's not "absolutely ridiculous".

    You can make it 20%, and you're now buying an $833 TV. And it'll still be a pretty good TV, and you'll still be putting down a $1,000 for it.

    Elki on
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    ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    If you're the kind of person who can spare a thousand bucks for a TV, you won't mind a 10% or a 20% or even a 30% tax. So the tax does not exist to affect your behavior. It exists to affect the behavior of lower-income consumers.

    The tax serves two purposes:

    1- Generate money for obesity research
    2- Discourage people from buying video games and possibly TVs

    The second one is optional because the primary goal is the first one. Even if the tax has zero affect on consumer behavior, it will still generate funding for research and that is a success. So whether a 1% tax or a 10% tax or a 20% tax will affect behavior is besides the point here.

    ege02 on
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    The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2008
    Either way, I'm not sure how sleep deprivation leads to obesity. (Ok, I do know how it does, sleep deprivation leads to stress, leads to weight gain, but I don't think that's the angle the video game tax is taking, so I'm not even sure why we're discussing it any more. The issue with books was that people generally read books in a sedentary state, so they aren't any better than video games for our physical health).
    well if you'd bothered reading the article I linked you'd realise it interferes with hormonal cycles

    Jesus.

    And ege is right, screens are linked to affecting melatonin levels, making you more awake. Geting outraged and posting anecdotal evidence won't change the general effect on the population.

    I guess asking you lot to read and think before boarding the Outrage Express to Denialsville was too much to ask :|

    The Cat on
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    I dunno, I think for the most part there's enough existing research out there to give people a good idea how not to get obese. Eat stuff that's not essentially made of glue, burn said eaten-stuff through activity that burns stuff, establish these habits as early as possible.

    ViolentChemistry on
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    The Cat wrote: »
    Either way, I'm not sure how sleep deprivation leads to obesity. (Ok, I do know how it does, sleep deprivation leads to stress, leads to weight gain, but I don't think that's the angle the video game tax is taking, so I'm not even sure why we're discussing it any more. The issue with books was that people generally read books in a sedentary state, so they aren't any better than video games for our physical health).
    well if you'd bothered reading the article I linked you'd realise it interferes with hormonal cycles

    Jesus.

    And ege is right, screens are linked to affecting melatonin levels, making you more awake. Geting outraged and posting anecdotal evidence won't change the general effect on the population.

    I guess asking you lot to read and think before boarding the Outrage Express to Denialsville was too much to ask :|

    How does reading affect melatonin levels?

    ViolentChemistry on
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    The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2008
    It doesn't. That's the point. And its not like this is news, I've been hearing about it since at least high school.

    The Cat on
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    The Cat wrote: »
    It doesn't. That's the point. And its not like this is news, I've been hearing about it since at least high school.

    Huh. I would have expected such a mentally stimulating activity would increase awakeness. I mean I really would. That's part of why I stopped reading novels in the first place.

    ViolentChemistry on
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    AdrienAdrien Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    ege02 wrote: »
    If you're the kind of person who can spare a thousand bucks for a TV, you won't mind a 10% or a 20% or even a 30% tax. So the tax does not exist to affect your behavior. It exists to affect the behavior of lower-income consumers.

    The tax serves two purposes:

    1- Generate money for obesity research
    2- Discourage people from buying video games and possibly TVs

    The second one is optional because the primary goal is the first one. Even if the tax has zero affect on consumer behavior, it will still generate funding for research and that is a success. So whether a 1% tax or a 10% tax or a 20% tax will affect behavior is besides the point here.

    Because I just bet that when you lower the quality of life of the lowest income brackets, they'll respond by spending more time on healthy activities.

    I just bet.

    Adrien on
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    The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2008
    Yeah, its an odd one. No-one's arguing that it would be a great idea to spend that 20-50 hours reading Les Mis, just to be clear, but there's a disproportionate effect on sleep pattern from screen use, particularly evening screen use.

    Also, Athel's point about phones deserves more attention. I only mentioned it in passing, but communication devices keep people up, waiting for the next message. I think that safely applies to this forum as well as little Sally's Nokia.

    The Cat on
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    The Cat wrote: »
    Yeah, its an odd one. No-one's arguing that it would be a great idea to spend that 20-50 hours reading Les Mis, just to be clear, but there's a disproportionate effect on sleep pattern from screen use, particularly evening screen use.

    Also, Athel's point about phones deserves more attention. I only mentioned it in passing, but communication devices keep people up, waiting for the next message. I think that safely applies to this forum as well as little Sally's Nokia.

    I bet it's because screens act like lights.

    ViolentChemistry on
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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    In the UK, they tax you to watch tv, even if it's all raggedy and old and non-HD. So there is precedent, and it generates revenue. I'm not sure what we'd do with the revenue, govt-subsidied boot camp for the obese, or forced gastric bypasses? Telling people they should eat healthier doesn't work, the current administration has spent billions on abstinence programs and that did jack with respect to underage sexual activity.

    There are plenty of gamers and computers geeks out there that aren't fat. They aren't healthy. They're sendentary and live on caffeine and candy, but why do you want to punish them?

    The "difficult to tax just unhealthy foods" thing is kinda crap no? All the food in the grocery store has nutritional info on it, the same tag that tells me that 2.5 cookies or 9 chips is a serving. Why can't a healthy component to unhealthy component algorythm be applied when the nutritional analysis is done and unhealthy foods be progressively taxed?

    Djeet on
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    ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    Djeet wrote: »
    In the UK, they tax you to watch tv, even if it's all raggedy and old and non-HD. So there is precedent, and it generates revenue.

    I don't think UK broadcasting law counts as precedence in U.S. courts, and you pay that tax to receive broadcasts, correct? Not to watch DVDs on a TV you already bought? I'm pretty sure that tax is more about broadcasting issues more than loafing issues.

    ViolentChemistry on
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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    true enough it is an apples to oranges comparison, i meant more that someone has gone and taxed tv watching, so it's not impossible. the revenue goes to fund the production of BBC content. i'm not sure if you have to pay the tax if you get a set but only watch dvd's or use it as a monitor. i think you can get fined for having a tv that can receive broadcast but aren't paying the tax regardless of how you're using it.

    Djeet on
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    SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2008
    The Cat wrote: »
    I guess asking you lot to read and think before boarding the Outrage Express to Denialsville was too much to ask :|

    Man, outraged? What? Unsurprised by the evidence and unconvinced by the conclusions postulated, at best. It's not me they're going to be taxing. I mean, I know we're supposed to be one big brotherhood of man, but my empathy has certain limitations.

    Szechuanosaurus on
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    ArasakiArasaki Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Djeet wrote: »
    true enough it is an apples to oranges comparison, i meant more that someone has gone and taxed tv watching, so it's not impossible. the revenue goes to fund the production of BBC content. i'm not sure if you have to pay the tax if you get a set but only watch dvd's or use it as a monitor. i think you can get fined for having a tv that can receive broadcast but aren't paying the tax regardless of how you're using it.


    You can get fined if you use said TV to receive broadcasts. If you don't plug it into the aerial socket and just use it to watch DVDs then you wouldn't get fined (as far as I know).

    Arasaki on
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    syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    edited January 2008
    This bugged me enough to blog on it.

    I personally think that the unfair tax targeting sucks, even if I like where the money is going.

    syndalis on
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    SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2008
    The Cat wrote: »
    Yeah, its an odd one. No-one's arguing that it would be a great idea to spend that 20-50 hours reading Les Mis, just to be clear, but there's a disproportionate effect on sleep pattern from screen use, particularly evening screen use.

    Also, Athel's point about phones deserves more attention. I only mentioned it in passing, but communication devices keep people up, waiting for the next message. I think that safely applies to this forum as well as little Sally's Nokia.

    I bet it's because screens act like lights.

    That would be exactly why. Melatonin is inhibited by blue light*, so as long as your eyes are being exposed to a strong light source, your body continues to generate melatonin and you stay awake. The thing is though, from what I've read of those studies, it's only people who remain exposed to their screen who stay awake 'I was up all night on mysace' type of thing. Well duh, of course you were. If you play videogames shortly before going to bed, then it's not going to take your body too long to build up it's melatonin levels again. Wikipedia suggests wearing blue-light inhibiting goggles about an hour before your desired bedtime, so I guess it would stand that it takes about an hour for a decently drowsy amount of melatonin to build up. This would tally with my anecdotal bedtime habit, where I'd normally be on the computer until around 10pm, go to bed and read until 11pm and then fall asleep shortly afterwards.

    Being able to get to sleep within 1hour of playing videogames or working on a computer is hardly health-destroying, the real problem, as I say from inference from the studies is that not removing oneself from in front of the screen means that you can artificially stave off drowsyness for many hours beyond your ideal bedtime through continued exposure to the screen. But as soon as you remove yourself from that exposure, you ought to be able to get to sleep within an hour (assuming you haven't stayed up so late the sun has risen, then you're fucked). Once you step away from the monitor, it no longer has any power over your ability to sleep.



    *Incidentally, the average LCD monitor/TV outputs at around 6500K (although hunting around, some sources suggest HDTV output over 10,000K, which is pretty crazy). Light above 7500K is generally consider 'in the blue range', so it might be debatable just how much a TV or monitor actually does contribute to melatonin inhibition. However, I guess it's fair to assume that they would certainly contribute more than incandescnet lighting typical of homes which would only output up to 3000K for the strongest wattage and which you aren't generally going to be staring directly into anyway.

    Szechuanosaurus on
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    ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2008
    We should get Tube to change this forum's background to a more melatonin-friendly color!

    ege02 on
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    Curly_BraceCurly_Brace Robot Girl Mimiga VillageRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    TheMarshal wrote: »
    Obesity is prevalent amongst poor families because cheap food is usually loaded with empty calories and fat. Attacking Video Games is just a cheap way to score political points because nobody has any idea of how to make healthful food cheaper.

    You're right on the money. Poverty often leads to poor nutrition. I recommend the book Nickel and Dimed for a great perspective on the hardships of poverty.
    MrMister wrote: »
    Do you think that tobacco taxes haven't had an effect on smoking rates? Or that they've been circumvented by black markets? Maybe, I guess, though for the people I know cost seems to be a factor both in why they want to quit or didn't start in the first place.

    I don't know anything about a tobacco black market, but it stands to reason one exists. In fact I'd consider young adults buying tobacco for their underage friends a black market, no? So while prohibition of a drug creates a huge black market, I wouldn't be surprised to see high taxes create a modest black market.

    As for tobacco taxes actually reducing tobacco consumption, I'm gonna have to call BS. (Not on you MrMister, on those who claim so.) I've never seen any hard numbers to back this up. Besides tobacco and alcohol are addictive substances. Addicts are willing to use up a lot of time and money to get the chemicals they need to function normally and avoid withdrawal. Sure tobacco taxes might stop some from starting, but I would guess they do little to help people quit.

    Curly_Brace on
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