The food police are here. And their chief of police is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He’s seeking to ban big sugary drinks in New York City.
‘Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible.’ New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something. I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do,’ Bloomberg told The New York Times.
Let’s substitute a different example with the same principle.
‘Watching too much television is a nationwide problem. All over the United States, health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘We’re a nation of couch potatoes.’ New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something. Television viewing will be restricted to five hours a week.’
You can imagine the reaction if the mayor of New York City (or the President of the United States) made such a statement. When it comes to some activities, freedom and individual rights matter. When it comes to others, that principle is out the window. Nobody ever explains why, or even attempts to justify this inconsistency.
Are there objections to Bloomberg’s proposed food dictatorship? Certainly. But the objections serve to reinforce the unnamed, but false, principle underneath Bloomberg’s proclamation.
The New York City Beverage Association responded this way:
‘There they go again. The New York City Health Department’s unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top. The city is not going to address the obesity issue by attacking soda because soda is not driving the obesity rates. It’s time for serious health professionals to move on and seek solutions that are going to actually curb obesity.’
So this is their self-defense. It’s not, ‘We have a right to sell our products, in whatever quantity they desire, to customers willing to drink our product. Get the hell out of our way!’
Instead, what passes for a defense is a pathetic counter claim that ‘This won’t reduce obesity.’ The people whose right to free trade and commerce is under attack are conceding the premise that it’s the job of government to control weight. ‘It’s fine for you to control weight,’ they’re implying. ‘Just don’t do it with our product.’
How convincing is this?
The masses, in New York City and elsewhere, are apparently just as ignorant of that little, forgotten principle called individual rights. It’s not just the right of the beverage companies to sell their product to willing customers that’s being attacked. It’s the fundamental right of people to put into (or not put into) their bodies what they damn well choose that’s being attacked! Do they care?
The Beverage Association’s statement will lead to a debate about whether big sugary drinks are, in fact, bad for you or not. This is not the concern of politicians. And ‘public health officials’ are not our slavemasters. We don’t live under a food dictatorship, and we’re not supposed to be living under any kind of dictatorship.
No, it’s not the most draconian law ever proposed. Sales of sweetened drinks larger than 16 ounces would still be permitted in supermarkets and convenience stores, according to CNN.com. Bloomberg’s ban would not apply to diet drinks, juices, milkshakes or alcohol. Thank you for that, Master Bloomberg.
But the specifics of the law are not the point. The point is the principle. If the government can take away some of your sugary drinks, it can take away all of them. Or it can take away other things. Or even everything, so long as ‘public health officials’ are upset and “doing something” is the standard.
In my view, the law is a deliberate attempt to sneak in the principle that the government has a right to regulate what people eat and drink. From Michele Obama on down, this has been a push for some time now. The earlier trans fat ban in New York City was based on the same rotten thinking.
The passage of nationalized medicine, with the unfunded mandates passed on to big cities and states for programs like Medicaid, are also part of the issue. Politicians like Bloomberg are thinking, ‘If we’re expected to pay for everyone’s health care, then we’re entitled to make them stay healthy, so as not to drive up costs.’
None of this is to suggest a conspiracy. It’s merely the open, logical outcome of a Big Government taking over medical care. He who pays sets the terms. On our current course, this will extend WAY beyond New York City. It will not be limited to sugary drinks, or trans fats, either. Think of an overbearing parent who says, ‘I’m paying for your car. So I’ll tell you where to drive.’ Or, “I’ll tell you who to date, so long as you live under my roof.” This is what happens when Americans turn the government into a gigantic Mommy-Daddy State, as the majority of them have.
I refuse to have a political discussion with anyone about the value or lack of value in sugary drinks. Or at what point the government should regulate what people eat or drink. ‘Regulate pizza? No way. Restrict Starbucks? You’re crazy. Outlaw sugary drinks? Go for it!’ Ridiculous.
This is the kind of mindless, unprincipled and unthinking garbage that corrupt career politicians (whose terms NEVER seem to end) like Michael Bloomberg are counting on their constituents to swallow. Trust me when I say that no amount of junk food, or sugary drinks, could ever be as toxic as the systematic destruction of liberty and individual rights.