As by now many of you have probably heard, New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has set out to ban soda (or “pop” as we Buffalonians like to call it) from appearing at food service establishments in his fair city in containers larger than 16 ounces. Now aside from the fact that this is just plain silly, there are a number of reasons why this latest ban in the long string of stupid bans that Bloomberg has enacted is a prime example of government hurting more than it is capable of helping.
This delusional and power-hungry executive of the Big Apple has recently banned not only the big bad soda, but has also put the kibosh on cigarettes, transfats, and even feeding the homeless. Even for the most stalwart proponents of government knowing better than the rest of us mere mortals, this is starting to look kind of bad. While my first thought is Mr. Mayor needs to double the salaries on his PR team, this act of his has ended up taking my thoughts in two directions. First, it’s a prime example of the extent to which government has seeped into absolutely every nook and cranny of american society. Not only does the government tell us when it’s acceptable to cross the street, or check under our testicles for WMD’s and make us dance in the nude with our butcheeks spread wide when they accidentally forget to process our payments on parking tickets - but they now feel the need to limit our ability to buy treats in bulk.
The other thought that I had was in regards to this specific regulation. It is another absolutely textbook example of government action acting on one small facet of a situation while completely failing to see the myriad of unseen consequences for their actions (Much like carpet bombing countries that hate us in an effort to get them to stop hating us). Excuse me while I list the eighteen thousand things that make this stupid which occurred to me while reading about this new gem: God forbid we purchase two liters of soda at once for half the price - we need to buy smaller, less eco-friendly, more expensive containers of soda on a more frequent basis. What if you’re buying for more than just you? Does no one in NYC have roommates? A family? An event for which they must purchase refreshments? Perhaps Bloomberg is attempting to spur the city’s economy by forcing people to purchase soda more often, tempting them into other impulse buys during their several visits to the vendor, rather than buying a large container and consuming it little-by-little all week?
The apologists for this act claim the health benefits. That’s just plain crap. I, for instance, hardly ever drink soda. But occasionally I do. And large containers of it are quite economical. As in my earlier example, I sometimes share this soda with friends. It would be silly to buy several small containers, so I buy a large one. I’m by no means obese, or having my health threatened by consuming a soda now and then. Just as an obese individual isn’t going to help out their health by eating a carrot once a week, I’m not going to do any damage to mine by having a soda. In fact, I ran the Buffalo marathon on Sunday. And I spent this morning admiring the snazzy lines on my stomach. Just because I work hard to keep up my six pack, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be allowed to pick up a two liter now and then. If that’s the case, then perhaps you should be making it illegal not to run the marathon, rather than prohibiting sugar in large quantities. Why not jumping straight to outlawing the cupcake stores? Ace of Cakes should probably be taken off the air in NYC while you’re at it. Ice cream stands? Not in my city. Unemployment rate rising? Tough noogies. There’ll be no Burger King while there’s a King Bloomberg.
My point, which I’d almost forgotten, is that people are going to make their own decisions. You can’t just slap a law on everything and corral human beings into one tiny path of behavior. Not only are people still going to eat what they please and live how they please despite your pesky rules and regulations, it’s just plain wrong to try and legislate morality to the point where you’re dictating which beverages people should have. People aren’t perfect. They’re going to abuse soda and occasionally someone is going to be worse off because of it. But to directly injure the businesses and their employees selling things people want, and in the process deny something the other 95% of people who treat the item responsibly simply because of that is reckless and stupid. You, Mayor Bloomberg, are reckless and stupid. To see someone so successful act with such little common sense is vastly more disappointing than anything I could imagine occurring with a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew.