The Big Brother Bloomberg ban
My question is this: If banning large sodas truly saves lives, why not ban all unhealthy food in restaurants? Why not regulate all food portions? What’s stopping us? Why is Mike Bloomberg allowing millions of Americans to perish while the murderous doubledecker taco and gigantic fruit punch freely walk the streets of Manhattan?
“NYC’s new sugary drink policy is the single biggest step any gov’t has taken to curb obesity. It will help save lives,” tweeted the mayor after New York’s Council of People’s Commissars approved a plan to ban sales of large sodas and sugary drinks at restaurants, street carts and movie theaters.
As usual, Bloomberg offers no real data to back up his paternalistic pronouncement — because none exists. The soda ban will not save a single life, unless we’re rescuing some unfortunate souls from falling into Big Gulps and drowning.
Fruit juices, dairy drinks, alcoholic beverages and most diet sodas are not part of the NYC ban. Fast food places that self-service drink fountains will only be allowed to have a 16 ounce cups — and hopefully people will re-fill those bad boys often.
My favorite quote from this New York Times story on the ban comes from a twinkie fascist named Sandro Galea, new to the New York board, who says:
“The argument that this is restricting choice is a false argument” Mr. Galea said, noting that customers could purchase as many smaller drinks as they would like. “The identification of threats to the health of the public is a core function of the department.”
It is useless, I assure you, to point out that banning something is by definition removing a choice, but it is fun to see Galea admit that consumers can simply buy many more smaller drinks to bypass this ban.
When I wrote “Nanny State,” I was often told that I was getting worked up over nothing. No one is ever going to ban salt (or bath salts!), or try to restrict portion sizes. It’s crazy talk. The slippery slope is a fantasy. Yet, the precedent is clear: Anything unhealthy — not deadly, simply unhealthy — can be banned. Too much salt. Certain oils. Surely, sugar could be banned. Why not? And have you seen the size of some of these steaks?
These kind of arbitrary bans may make anti-consumer choice crusaders like Bloomberg and Galea feel good about themselves, but they offer nothing of value when it comes to obesity. What they do is create one precedent after the next that normalizes paternalistic government intrusion.