Calling critics of the plan “ridiculous,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is defending his proposed ban on large-size sugary sodas. I have long been a critic of such measures, but this one is particularly presumptuous in my view. People should have a choice as to what and how much they wish to eat and drink. The ban is particularly illogical since it would simply require people to buy multiple cans of soda unless Bloomberg will next impose a drink limit for New Yorkers. You can have as many Manhattans as you want but do not reach for the super-sized soda. I am waiting for the next bumper sticker: “If Big Gulps Are a Crime, Only Criminals Will Have Big Gulps.”
I agree with critics that this is the ultimate example of the “Nanny state” where the government dictates the the proper lifestyle choices and risks for adults. I have no problem with banning sodas in school as many district have done. However, Bloomberg has decided that educational programs and warnings are not enough because adults are not meeting the expectations of the government. Bloomberg is quoted as saying “I look across this country, and people are obese, and everybody wrings their hands, and nobody’s willing to do something about it.” The solution therefore is to take away choice and to dictate Dr. Bloomberg’s diet for all citizens.
The soda ban will be introduced on June 12 at a New York City Board of Health meeting. It is expected to pass.
However, Bloomberg insists that when you are told that you cannot have that soda, “Nobody is taking away any of your rights. This way, we’re just telling you ‘That’s a lot of soda.'” Really? Sounds a lot like “you can’t have that soda.”
Honestly, if prohibition did not work for alcohol, it is likely to be even less successful for sodas. What is unclear is why Bloomberg is not also banning french fries, onion rings, and other unhealthy foods eaten in excessive quantities. How about requiring proof that a large stuffed pizza has no fewer than four persons willing to sign for it? I think people have a right to an unhealthy lifestyle. This is not like second-hand smoke that harms others. You can be around someone with a large soda and remain perfectly healthy.
There must be something to occupy the Mayor’s time beyond soda drinkers like serial killers. Forcing people to buy two ten ounce sodas rather than one twenty ounce soda is hardly a public interest triumph. However, it is not the sheer stupidity but the sheer hubris that I find remarkable about this proposed ban. Perhaps the good Mayor should stop “looking across the country” like some stern Satrap and focus on those harms that people do to others from crime to pollution.
In the meantime, I will soon issue a new bumper sticker for the soda patriots: “You Can Pry My Big Gulp From My Cold Fat Fingers.”
Source: LA Times