Monday, December 21, 2009

Bottled Water Tax: "The People Deserve To Get Something In Return"

LG John Cherry has an op-ed in the Detroit News today that talks about his plan to restore the Michigan Promise Scholarship with a water bottle tax. Go read it, but here's the best part (emphasis mine):
Right now, bottlers across the state remove water from our wells essentially for free, and we lack the necessary funding to safeguard this precious resource. In other words, we're losing one resource -- our talented work force -- while giving away another resource, our water, for free.

You don't need a Ph.D. in mathematics to solve this terrible equation. It's time for the bottlers to pay their water bill, just like you and I do. We can use the proceeds from that water bill to fund the education that our young people need to compete, as well as protecting the water resources that Michigan desperately needs.

By conservative estimates, a charge of 10 cents per bottle, paid by bottling companies that operate in Michigan, would raise $118 million per year. The cost of the Michigan Promise Scholarship, on the other hand, is about $100 million per year. Not only would this modest charge on each bottle of water that leaves Michigan raise enough funds to pay for the entire Michigan Promise program, we'd still have $18 million a year to spend on wetlands regulation and other conservation initiatives. [...]

This is the people's water, and the people deserve to get something in return.
Ironically, employers like to point out they need an educated workforce to be successful and profitable, and Nestle, the parent company of Ice Mountain, is no exception.
Like every Michigan employer, we rely on an educated workforce.
Yet Nestle is complaining that Cherry's proposal penalizes Michigan employers, risks jobs, and that bottlers may resort to supplying products from outside the state in order to remain competitive on the price consumers pay for bottled water products.

A Nestle Water Company spokesman also claimed that the tax would nearly double the price consumers paid for a case of water.
"Let's look at the math," said Flaherty. "Most bottled water is purchased in cases of 24 bottles of .5 liter size, for about or less than $4.00 per case -- putting the price per bottle at about 16 cents. A 10-cent per bottle tax on Michigan manufactured products nearly doubles the price for consumers, and would be unsustainable in the highly competitive beverage marketplace.

"Consumers are very savvy, and rarely could be convinced to pay nearly double for Michigan-produced bottle water when lesser-priced options exist," said Flaherty. "I challenge you to ask consumers if they'd pay $6.50 for a case when they can pay less than $4 for the same product made elsewhere."
True, consumers are savvy, but we also care about educating our children. I have a suggestion for Nestle. You pay the 10 cent tax per bottle on the water you currently get for free without passing it on to consumers and in return you'll get an educated workforce, an improved "corporate neighbor" image and the gratitude of citizens who just might go out of their way to buy your product. I'd say that's a win-win for everyone involved. After all, your company admitted that bottled water profits were down in part because of public criticism. Why would you want to anger us even more?


Kvatch said...

No resource, especially one as important as water, should be given away in this day in age. That said, I'm developing a new found appreciation for bottled water.

Trying to stick to 5 liter bottles to cut down on the waste and to boil water when I can. But damn you miss potable tap water when it's no longer an option.

Kathy said...

Kvatch, I agree, water shouldn't be given away for free, and NO company should be profiting from free water. That's just wrong.

It's interesting to see how traveling can change one's perspective, as it has in your case. Too many people take water for granted in this country.