Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling has struck a victory for sanity (as well as individual choice) in striking down New York Mayor Bloomberg’s widely ridiculed ban on large sugary drinks. As we previously discussed, the law was a poorly drafted and poorly conceived ban that allowed a host of higher caloric drinks to be sold in bars and other establishments. Tingling found the law to be “arbitrary and capricious.” Bloomberg has appeared to have developed an insatiable appetite to dictating what others can eat, including a proposed crackdown on popcorn and milk. After the soda ban, a long list of items have been put forward to Bloomberg to ban before Judge Tingling put a halt to the feeding frenzy.
Tingling focused on the obvious “loopholes” in the law that barred sales for some establishments while allowed the drinks to be sold by other establishments “even within a particular City block, much less the City as a whole.” The judge also found that the law created a an administrative Leviathan and violate the separation of powers doctrine” by sweeping into areas of legislative authority with the city council.
As we discussed earlier, 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.
Bloomberg insisted 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. Then there are those other items like 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. Then there are those high calorie alcoholic drinks being served with the loaded stuffed potatoes in bars around New York.
After the ruling, Bloomberg insisted “I’ve got to defend my children, and yours, and do what’s right to save lives.” Sixty percent of New Yorkers opposed the limit and clearly believe that they do not need Bloomberg making choices for them or their families. However, most parents feel that they can defend their own children and make choices for them. Moreover, Bloomberg did not ban sodas for school children, he dictated what adults can drink. The ban was facially absurd from the start since it would only force customers to buy multiple drinks if they wanted the same amount. Then there was the confusion of the lines of exemptions. The ban did not apply to pure fruit juice or fruit smoothies or drinks that are more than half milk. Starbucks yesterday vowed to continue to serve sweetened coffee drinks before the ruling, causing an outburst by Bloomberg.
Undeterred, Bloomberg has decided to spend more money in fighting the ruling and affirm his right to control the diets of people in the city. He rejects the widespread objections over individual choice and insists that New Yorkers must be required to comply with the dietary demands of his government. However, that Tingling feeling yesterday was the voice of reason.