05/24/2013 02:41 pm ET Updated May 26, 2013

Jeff Melcher Really Worried That Grocery-Tax Cut Means People Will Never Buy Anything But Groceries

The Kansas Senate has passed a measure that would cut the state sales tax on groceries from 6.3 percent to 4.95 percent, setting up what the Kansas City Star calls a "showdown with the [State] House," where "approval" of the plan "is questionable."

There are probably some compelling reasons to cut the sales tax on groceries. For instance, unemployed and impoverished Kansans might starve to death at a slightly lower rate. At the same time, there are probably some compelling reasons to maintain the sales tax on groceries at the current rate -- the revenues collected could provide state residents with services, like police, roads, bridges that don't collapse and the like. But as Raw Story's David Edwards reports, at least one Kansas lawmaker has come up with his own, bespoke concern about this measure:

A Republican state lawmaker in Kansas says that he opposes cutting the taxes on groceries because it would be a form of "social engineering" that encourages people to buy food over other items.

The Kansas Senate on Thursday voted to cut the state sales tax on food from 6.3 percent to 4.95 percent, but Sen. Jeff Melcher (R) led opposition against the measure, arguing that it would lead to people eating more.

"It seems to me we are encouraging the behavior of purchasing food and discouraging the behavior of purchasing anything else," Melcher reportedly told his colleagues.

Sure, there can be little doubt that an almost imperceptible decrease in the sales tax on groceries is bound to cause ordinary people to just straight-up spend all their disposable income on foodstuffs, to the detriment of all other industries. Why go to a movie when you can buy a bunch of bell peppers and chow down? Who is going to gas up their car when they could instead enjoy a delicious loaf of challah bread? Where parents might have ordinarily chosen to procure clothing for their children, they now have every incentive to simply send their kids to school, bodies smeared in pasta sauce and refried beans, because they are practically giving the food away.

Moderate Republican State Rep. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills) tells The Huffington Post, "I have no words. That's just beyond comprehension to me. We each get to think what we want to think. But this is so far out there that I can't believe someone said it. It's frightening, that's what it is."

Kansas Democratic Party spokesman Dakota Loomis described Melcher's thought process as a "scary notion" and stressed that he is helping devise the entire state budget.

Melcher is hardly the first person to suggest that providing consumers with increased access to foodstuffs can alter their behavior in deleterious ways. Back in the 1980s, it was posited that consumers, left to their own devices, ran the risk of "going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs." Anecdotal accounts of this phenomenon were never subsequently subjected to a peer-reviewed scientific study, however, so they remain apocryphal.

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