Ban on the run

New York mayor's war on big sodas rightly fizzes out in court

  • Follow Editorials

A benevolent dictator is more dictator than benevolent.

A judge is now the only thing standing between the people of New York City and benevolent dictator Michael Bloomberg – whose ban on large sugary drinks in restaurants and such was blocked by a court ruling Monday.

The mayor surely has the best of intentions, in trying to follow up his smoking and trans-fat bans with one on the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces at food-service establishments.

Still, there is a huge difference between banning smoking and trans-fats – and requiring restaurants to post calorie counts for their food, as Bloomberg also has done – and banning big drinks. Smoking is inherently dangerous, even to nonsmokers in enclosed areas, and trans-fats apparently aren’t healthy in any dosage. And posting calorie counts is merely providing consumers information.

But banning the sale of legal soft drinks – which can be safely and responsibly ingested – is an affront to individual liberty. Good grief, when did we give government this much power over our lives?

The answer, of course, is gradually. Today it is soft drinks. Tomorrow it’s another foodstuff or something else our benevolent rulers feel is bad for us. Who needs a parent when you’ve got overlords like Michael Bloomberg?

The frog is boiled alive when the heat is turned up slowly.

Moreover, Bloomberg’s ban is arbitrary and capricious, as the judge noted, “because it applies to some but not all food establishments in the city, it excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories on suspect grounds, and the loopholes inherent in the rule ... serve to gut the purpose of the rule.”

Indeed, because Bloomberg’s handpicked health board doesn’t hold sway over them – yet – convenience stores and grocery stores are exempt from the soda ban. Nor does it include such things as milkshakes, which one would think are pretty darn sugary too.

This is the unavoidable hypocrisy of dictates. They’re uneven, unfair, erratic and injudicious.

Many Americans are still quite indisposed to being told how to live their lives. Those of us who remember Orwell are horrified that any American would silently accept it.

Even if it were within Mayor Bloomberg’s authority to regulate what we eat and drink, it’s not within his power. Has he never had a teenager? As a movie character once said, “the American people have a funny way of deciding on their own what is and what is not their business.”

The government can, and should, regulate the safety of our food, water and air. It can and should protect us, as much as can be expected in a free country, from contagions. What it cannot and should not do is dictate what we eat or drink, or in what portions. The mayor cannot be a nanny. He cannot criminalize unhealthy choices.

Responsibility cannot be forced on people. It can, however, be spread, in big gulps, by the right example.

The soda ban is not one of them.

Comments (8) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Riverman1 03/13/13 - 07:30 am
Constitution, Constitution,

Constitution, Constitution, Constitution, Constitution, Constitution, Constitution. How many times do I have to say it? Is New York City not part of America?

curly123053 03/13/13 - 07:41 am
Blame The Unions!

The people of NYC are like sheep! One reason they are like sheep is their indoctrination of living in a unionized world. They are used to doing what the kingpin orders. I have cousins by the oodles in Brooklyn and they swear by the unions and when I refer to their mayor as a dictator they get all defiant. They keep electing politicians up there that seem to follow a socialist script, and I blame that on them being brought up in a unionized society.
Imagine if a mayor in a SC or Ga city decided to enact half of what king Bloomberg has already enacted with very little outcry from his sheeple?

deestafford 03/13/13 - 09:37 am
I agree and I disagree

I agree with the thrust of the editorial and it is right on target.
I disagree with the idea that banning smoking, trans fats, and posting calories is OK. Those things should be up to the owner of the establishments and the customers. When you take choices away from people you are taking away more individual freedom. As we have seen, anything the government does for "the good of the people" leads to regulations beyond the original intent. Just look at the American for Disabilities Act is but one example. OSHA is another. EPA is another. All started with good intentions, but when implemented by crusaders on white horses they became tyranny.
I have no sympathy for the New Yorkers because they voted this "I-want-to-be-dictator-because-I'm-smarter-than-you" elitist in twice.
Just remember: the ruling class thinks we are stupid and they must take care of us.

myfather15 03/13/13 - 09:50 am
These are the same fools

These are the same fools trying to disarm Americans. The left has gone completely crazy in this Country. Will they EVER realize you can NOT legislate responsibility to irresponsible people? This is a FREE Country, banning everything from sugar and salt to guns is NOT the way this Country was supposed to be.

They will never be satisfied until they have full control over everything. It's proven in their actions everyday. I will NEVER understand this mentality of wanting to control everything and tell everyone how to live their lives. It is Satan's way, period. God gave us free will and free choice. Satan wants to take that away from us, just like communism. Communism IS his way, politics and religion do mix; matter of fact you can't seperate them. They are one in the same.

gaflyboy 03/13/13 - 10:38 am
ACES - most of your opinion is right on ...

Until you start defending "...banning smoking and trans-fats – and requiring restaurants to post calorie counts for their food..."

The only part of this you got right is "Smoking ... in enclosed areas".

America was founded on liberty –
lib•er•ty [lib-er-tee]
noun, plural lib•er•ties.
1. freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.
2. freedom from external or foreign rule; independence.
3. freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.

Our country was founded on the idea that we can do whatever we choose as long as it doesn’t cause harm or injury to another person or their property.

People choose whether or not to purchase foods with trans-fats and without posted calorie counts. When they do not, trans-fats will disappear and posted calorie counts will appear on all foods - without nanny Bloomberg or any other 'benevolent dictator' decrees.

itsanotherday1 03/14/13 - 12:39 am

I agree with you on smoking, but disagree on the other two. I feel those selling prepared food to the public have an obligation to divulge what is in it. Not the recipe; but the important nutrients.

What are they hiding and why? Anyone in their kitchen with a laptop can analyze any recipe for nutrient content in no time.

paladin5 03/14/13 - 03:48 am
Geeeeez.......Now A Laptop

I guess I am out on the nutrient count; I don't have a LAPTOP in my kitchen. Guess I can carry the food product to my computer before I fix or eat it. Or I can call a friend with a Smart Phone to look it up for me; I probably want be talking to them after that.

I had to read this Post with my sense of humor running. My parents, grand-parents, and most of my deceased uncles and aunts died in their late 70's, 80's, and 90's. Hard work and Hard Times probably contributed to their "early" deaths more than the foods they ate most of which didn't have a label.....and they did not know what a Laptop was. You gotta laugh; it helps reduce stress:)

soapy_725 03/14/13 - 09:49 am
And the federal government subsidizes

high fructose corn syrups that are in everything now. More sugar and salt to cover up the tasteless products of mass food production and over the top preservatives.

We eat more preservatives that sodium chloride. But that is okay because the government decides who is the villain.

Lactose intolerance is now combined with fructose intolerance. Sugar substitutes cause water retention and weight gain. Also, may cause hypertension in some due to water retention.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs