October 30, 2010; Source: UPI.com | Governments have long relied on what are sometimes called “sin” taxes to make it economically unfeasible to support unhealthy habits—like boosting taxes on cigarettes or threatening to impose levies that would slow the sales of soda to young people. Another incentive to get people to give up a bad or potentially harmful habit is just to reward them with cash.

That’s what one California nonprofit did by encouraging dentists to buy back Halloween candy at $1 a pound from children all over the country. The buy-back program makes a lot of sense and represents a kind of two-fer: the risk of cavities in young people is reduced and the effort also helps fight the obesity problem.

But where the logic gets a little fuzzy is what happens next. Instead of taking this massive collection of sweets and putting it out of harm’s way for everyone, the candies are sent off to Operation Gratitude, where it is put into care packages for troops overseas. We are familiar with outsourcing jobs, but cavities?—Bruce Trachtenberg