The recent public-relations stunt orchestrated by D.C. Council members Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1) and Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8) had all the elements of grand theater: a prominent setting at the John A. Wilson Building, a catchy theme song, a stunning visual in 30 jugs of multicolored drinks and even a hashtag to display the serious nature of the legislation about to be introduced. But in reality, it was more a celebration of failure than success.

By enacting a $21 million Pigovian tax designed to alter consumer behavior, the council has decided to jettison the difficult work of creating adequate supplies of fresh, healthy foods in Wards 7 and 8 for the sugar high of feel-good legislation that speaks to the bureaucratic bloat and empty calories of missed opportunities.

Philadelphia’s soda tax was considered a failure because people simply traveled beyond the city boundaries. These taxes certainly aren’t new or innovative. The seeming success of the tax in Berkeley, Calif., wasn’t based on empirical studies but on “Street Intercept” surveys. At times the pen may indeed be mightier than the sword, but in this instance it fails miserably. Unless our elected officials can do something more than entertain us for an afternoon, the health problems related to junk food will continue.

Any good chef knows how to be creative. Instead of pushing paper, our lawmakers should do something that would improve food choices without stealing money.

Greg Boyd, Washington