New York Mayor Bloomberg's edict banning large-size soft drinks is a classic case of arbitrary bureaucratic silliness, and of health-conscious thinking gone inconsistently awry.
The Mayor wants to make it a minor crime for restaurants, theaters, sports venues, fast-food purveyors, even food carts and kiosks to sell sugar-laced drinks... soft drinks, sports and energy beverages... in containers larger than 16 ounces.
But Mr. Bloomberg provides a plethora of bewildering exceptions, including:
- Convenience stores, including 7-Eleven, home of the Big Gulp and Super Big Gulp
- Grocery stores and markets of all types
- Vending machines
- Soft drinks with fewer than 25 calories per 8 ounces
- Fruit drinks
- Beverages containing dairy products
- Beverages containing alcohol
No bans are planned for buying more than one 16-ounce cup, for refilling your existing cup, or presumably for filling to the brim your own large-size non-disposable drink holder.
Why? The Mayor explained recently on radio:
"I look across this country, and people are obese, and everybody wrings their hands, and nobody's willing to do something about it... It's the first disease that's gone from being a rich person's disease to a poor person's disease. Look at the pictures of the old robber barons with their big stomachs out in the '20s. They were proud that they were fat. They all died young, but they were proud until that.
"Today it is poor people who are dying much more. And the numbers are just off the charts... Nobody is taking away any of your rights. This way, we're just telling you ‘That's a lot of soda.'"Mayor Bloomberg is worried about obesity, so he starts with soft drinks?
Not bacon-laden, cheese-smothered, guacamole-slathered double burgers served on refined white bread? Not finger-licking, grease-dripping, batter-dipped fried anything? Not venti chocolate cookie crumble frappuccinos topped with luscious chocolate whipped cream?
Sounds to me like Mayor Bloomberg is on a Food Fascism bender about one of his pet peeves, sugary soft drinks... or else he would approach the obesity epidemic in seriousness, rather than capriciously and arbitrarily.
For example, a medium Coke at McDonalds is 21 ounces and boasts 210 calories. If the Mayor's objective was simply to stop New Yorkers from sipping too many calories, his goal would be better and more fairly served by squelching all high calorie drinks, including:
- Baskin-Robbins Mint Chocolate Chip Shake - 520 calories in 12 ounces
- Mai Tai mixed drink - 620 calories in 9 ounces
- Margarita blended drink - 550 calories in 10 ounces
- Jamba Juice Peach Perfection Smoothie - 460 calories, 24 ounces
- Starbucks Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha - 650 calories, 20 ounces
But he won't, of course. The public outcry from his wealthier constituents would be too great. Modern industrial food corporations would undoubtedly find ways to rile the public and undermine his political power. The fifteen 7-Eleven stores in New York City might be forced out of business should their Big Gulp business evaporate into nothingness.
Like most Americans, I, too, cringe when I see a child sucking down a super-sized sugary drink. And I personally don't consume soft drinks. Too harsh, too sweet. To me, not worth the calories.
But New York Mayor Bloomberg's nonsensical edict banning large-size soft drinks is a classic case of arbitrary bureaucratic silliness and a complete waste of public time and monies.
Even more, his laughably ineffective suppression of beverage choices does, indeed, slide down the slippery slope of taking another personal right away from Americans.
Hypocrisy, thy name is Food Fascism in 2012. And Mayor Bloomberg is blithely leading the brigade.