Click here to listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM 600, Friday, June 1, 2012.
This week, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg put forth a proposal that, if adopted, would make it illegal for convenience stores, restaurants, theaters and other food-selling venues to sell sugared soft drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. This is necessary, says Nanny Bloomberg, to curb the growing obesity problem in the Big Apple.
This is not the first time that hizzonor has weighed in (you’ll forgive me) on what New Yorkers eat and drink. In a September 2011 address to a United Nations General Assembly summit on non-communicable diseases – a meeting that included discussions on diet and nutrition – Bloomberg proudly trumpeted his initiatives regarding what his subjects, er citizens, eat.
“In 2009 we enacted the first restriction on cholesterol-free artificial trans fat in the city’s food service establishments. Our licensing of street green card producer/vendors has greatly increased the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods with high rates of diet related diseases. And we’ve led a national salt reduction initiative and engaged 28 food manufacturers, supermarkets and restaurant chains to voluntarily commit to reducing excessive amounts of sodium in their products.”
Now hold that word “voluntarily” in your mind as you listen to what else he said.
“There are powers only governments can exercise, policies only governments can mandate and enforce and results only governments can achieve.”
If these statements by Mayor Bloomberg, and his actions of this week telling you how much Coca Cola you can drink in a single sitting, don’t combine to give you a clear view into the thinking of the liberal ruling class elite, then your number one health problem is not obesity, it’s blindness.
What Bloomberg and those of like mind believe is simply this: ‘You don’t know what’s good for you and you therefore need an enlightened ruling class to manage your life.’ A lot of people who themselves are not members of the ruling elite seem to agree. This woman, interviewed on the street in New York on Thursday, is an example.
WOMAN ON STREET IN NYC (Listen HERE): “I think 16 ounces is reasonable. I think it’s a good way to send a message that he’s supporting healthier lifestyles.”
So even if it limits personal freedom, the mayor’s job is to “send a message” that he’s “supporting healthier lifestyles.” Wow. And to think all this time I thought it was to make sure the streets get fixed and that the police and fire departments answer calls in a timely fashion and that the garbage gets picked up.
This would all be barely tolerable if it actually produced the result of reducing obesity.
Making street vendors put fruits and vegetables on carts in neighborhoods with “high rates of diet related diseases” doesn’t magically make the people in those neighborhoods healthier. If you don’t believe me, refer to the piece in this space last December on school lunches in Los Angeles. Only individual decisions to eat healthier, taken one person at a time, will accomplish the goal of improving public health. Meanwhile the food vendor, instead of putting on his cart that which he can sell at a profit, is forced to carry goods he will in all likelihood wind up throwing away.
Because it involves soda pop, this story at first appears smaller than it actually is. But it’s big. We are ceasing to be our own masters. With each do-good initiative from the nanny state government, with each incremental encroachment by government into our daily lives, with each limitation placed by government on our personal discretion, we little-by-little surrender our liberty.
The irony is that statism in the form of massive intervention into the health care industry stands in part responsible for Nanny Bloomberg’s concern about obese New Yorkers. If, rather than third-parties like the government insulating most people from the true costs of their health care, soda swilling tubbos had to instead pay the costs attendant to their diabetes out of their own pockets, soft drink consumption would go down all by itself.