Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Finally, some common sense!

Last week a student asked me where Mayor Bloomberg got the power to ban large soft drinks. Good question. I had no idea. And apparently, the Mayor had no concern either for the legalities of putting forth such a diktat. The wonderfully-named Judge Milton Tingling found problem after problem with the ban. This is just wonderful news. It is very nice to realize that there are, after all, some legal limits to what the nanny state can do. Otherwise, we are doomed as Mark Steyn said yesterday when talking about the seven-year-old boy who got in trouble for chewing his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun. Steyn warned that society cannot survive this sort of "institutionalized stupidity." Exactly! We can't give up common sense and the rights to make our own decisions about the food we eat and the beverages we drink.

Of course, Mayor Bloomberg doesn't care about any stinking rights. He sees that people are obese and so he needs to do something about it.
“I got to defend my children and you and everybody else and do what’s right to save lives,” he angrily said. “Obesity kills. There’s just no question about it.”

The mayor said 70,000 Americans and 5,000 New Yorkers will die from obesity-related illnesses this year, making the ban on large sugary drinks a key move.
See, all that matters is that he has a good and worthy goal. The means for accomplishing that goal is not so important. Whether his measure actually would achieve that goal is not so important. All that matters is his own vision of his goal. Thus we have a perfect insight into the progressive mindset.

As Jonathan Tobin writes, concern for health has become the go-to reason for progressives to expand government into more and more aspects of our private lives.
Let’s specify that drinking large amounts of sugared drinks is unhealthy and that obesity has become a serious health problem in the United States. The government’s duty to protect public health does give it the right to ban certain types of dangerous substances. But even if the consumption of large amounts of sugar is bad for us, that doesn’t mean New York City, or any municipality that wants to turn itself into a nanny state, should have the ability to tell citizens how much of a legal substance they can or cannot eat or drink so long as doing so does not create an imminent danger to public safety–as with alcohol.

The soda ban was poorly drafted and created an inconsistent and hypocritical set of rules that wouldn’t have done much, if anything, to make anyone healthier. But the issue here is whether the desire to improve our health is sufficient to justify the abrogation of individual rights. The point is not so much the right to imbibe 32-ounce drinks at the movies as it is whether there is anything the government may not regulate in its zeal to become the food police.
How lovely that a judge had the wisdom to say that that is not the way our system works. For a few moments longer, people have the liberty to make their own decisions in their private lives. How ironic that the same people who have trumpeted choice when it comes to abortion and other sexual choices, want to block choice when it comes to what we eat and drink.