Didn’t we learn anything from Prohibition?
Ban a product and you make it more desirable. Soon, it makes its way to the black market. If Mayor Michael Bloomberg ultimately gets his way (he promises to appeal the decision stopping the soda ban) soon junk food speakeasies will spring up all over New York City. Know the secret knock and you can enter an underground world of sodas, potato chips, and powdered donuts. Gorge yourself until you feel sick, wipe the sugar powder from your upper lip, and reenter at street level as though nothing untoward has happened.
The only thing that will give you away is your increasing girth and an occasional belch brought on by consumption of excess carbonation.
I totally understand where Bloomberg is coming from. He believes that if he could just take control of the lives of every New Yorker, he could mold them into much better people. Women would breastfeed their babies, people would eat healthier, and hearing would be preserved through old age. He could create the perfect humans according to Michael Bloomberg.
There is no doubt that soda is not nutritious. Neither are French fries and double cheeseburgers with the works, but he’s not proposing banning them—yet.
We’re supposed to be a free country. I put the emphasis on supposed to be because the more the government instructs every aspect of our daily lives, the more our basic freedoms erode. Granted, I don’t like paying for other people’s stupid decisions. Eating poorly, drinking in excess, and smoking all have health consequences. But Mayor Bloomberg isn’t talking about making people pay themselves for all their poor choices. In fact, ObamaCare requires insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions, so actually we’re now more inclined to cover other people’s mistakes than to make them responsible for themselves when it comes to obesity.
Bloomberg singles out 16 ounce sodas, but those aren’t the only drivers of obesity. A combination of poor food choices and complete lack of exercise are the main factors. Back 100 years ago, people engaged in many more daily physical activities just to survive. Read the first few pages of Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson about how Hill Country pioneer women spent all day washing clothes, and you’ll see how good we have it today. Those people would laugh hysterically if we bragged about how much time we spend at the gym each week.
In reading the coverage of Justice Milton Tingling’s decision to stop the soda ban, I’ve had to laugh myself. The press keeps using the phrase “arbitrary and capricious” as though it’s something Justice Milton invented himself. Actually, it’s a legal term of art and is basically the test courts must use to overturn a regulation. It’s a pretty high burden because the governing agency in charge of the regulation is ordinarily presumed to have acted properly. It takes a lot for a challenger to prove that a regulation is arbitrary and capricious. Evidently, this ban was so bad, Justice Tingling easily reached his decision.
I’m not saying we should all overload on junk food, but I do believe that we should take great care when eroding personal freedoms.
You may like the soda ban and think its great public policy, but you never know what future elected officials might next think is good for everyone.