We asked a few questions when Great Nanny of New York Michael Bloomberg announced his ban on restaurant sodas that are greater than 16 ounces:
We can only ask what savories are next in line for Bloomberg’s ban-hammer. Will the Nanny-in-chief ration cream cheese? Will he unilaterally halve the size of a New York pizza slice? Will the pastrami sandwich go the way of the dodo? Will the foot-long hot dog lose its foot?
Our objection was pooh-poohed. The Washington Post’s editorial cartoonist said that “NOT ALL SLOPES ARE SLIPPERY” – in all caps – so he clearly must be correct. Unfortunately, as regards this slope he is completely wrong.
More truthful is this headline from another master of Caps Lock, The Drudge Report: “NYC MULLS LIMITS ON MILK, POPCORN.” This slope is not only slippery, but bureaucrats are now covering it in (trans fat-free) oil. Somewhere, Mark Bittman jumps for joy.
Yes, even the Nanny-in-chief has been outdone by New York’s Board of Health Busybodies. They weren’t too happy with the much-mocked “latte loophole” for starters, with one member of the board saying, “There are certainly milkshakes and milk-coffee beverages that have monstrous amounts of calories.” And so there was a great hush, as if thousands of members of Bittman’s priest class suddenly cried out in terror and were roped in with the soda-drinking masses. Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal is already underwater in opinion polls; we wouldn’t be surprised if Manhattanites too turn and balk at the diktat now that their venti coffees are on the line.
Solid food didn’t escape this latest round of bureaucratic nanny-ism either. Another of Bloomberg’s acolytes targeted movie theater popcorn, saying, “The popcorn isn’t a whole lot better than the soda.” So much for the debunked justification for targeting soda; namely, to quote city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, that “there’s something about [sugary drinks like soda] that seems to be uniquely associated with obesity.”
We think this tempest is illustrative of another thing, too. The “public health” social engineers all too often see regulation as their only tool. Rather than fixing the latte loophole by rethinking the hated and mocked soda ban, the “public health” bureaucrat’s mind turns to banning even more foods and drinks. Even though, as The New York Times reports, “There is little available data showing the cost of [existing anti-obesity] programs, the number of participants or the results,” the politicians and bureaucrats cannot resist the siren call: “Do this: It’s something!”
We suppose it could be worse. Given the propensity of the new obesity activists to call those who cherish their freedom to imbibe and recognize the duty to masticate responsibly as holding “prejudicial attitudes,” the Board of Health could have called soda “sexist,” or something. We’ve heard weirder things.