13 September 2012

Big Gulp--Nanny Bloomberg Succeeds in His "Modest Proposal" on Super Sized Sugary Sodas

Today the New York City Board of Health approved  Mayor Michael Bloomberg's (D-R-I-NYC) Large Soda Ban by a nine to nothing vote (with one abstention).  The Health Board claims that they received 32,000 comments and only 6,000 people objected. Yet this rousing ratification of the Nanny State comes despite  public polling that 60% of New Yorkers opposed this ban on sugary sodas larger than a pint. Granted, we have seen how Democrats can treat the popular vote when there is a desired decision in mind.  So what does the vox populi matter when your progressive political betters know what is best for you?

New York City under Nanny Bloomberg's tutelage has been in the vanguard of forcing public health down the public throats.  New York City banned smoking in bars in 2003 and later extended this prohibition on smoking to public parks in 2011.  In 2006, New York City led the way by banning trans-fat from the Big Apple's 24,000 eating establishments.  In 2008, New York City regulations forced  restaurants to display the calorie count next to price.  About the only place where Bloomberg lagged behind was banning toys in Happy Meals as was done in San Francisco. The "success" of these dietary diktats issued by Bloomberg's bureaucrats gives them the hubris to think that the hubbub which the large drink ban has brewed will eventually fall flat and be accepted by the public.

But the Big Sugar Soda Ban seems as complex as implementing Obamacare. The Nanny State Big Soda ban applies to city restaurants, movie houses, Broadway theaters, street vendors and stadiums, but diet sodas can still be sold at affected establishments.  The ban does not extend to convenience stores like 7-11 so one can still legally lip on a Big Gulp in the Big Apple. Nor does the ban apply to vending machines.  The limits are inapplicable for grocery store sales. This regulation does not cover beverages that are 70% juice, dairy drinks that are more than 50% milk or alcoholic beverages. And city officials are quick to point out that there is nothing stopping consumers from getting refills or ordering two drinks (yet), aside from the additional cost and hassle.

From a public health perspective, this Sugary Soda regulation is half-hazard.  Granted that the NYC Health Board may not have jurisdiction over ever establishment, but its application seemed unevenly applied, allowing big drinks in grocery stores and convenience stores.  If large drinks are really a health concern, then the substance should be banned not limited.  Secondly, the loopholes for some dairy and juice drinks is spurious.  If the problem is calories, then large servings of those drinks should be equally problematic.  While diet drinks may not contain the calories, there are a bevy of health surveys which call into question the salubriousness of such sodas.

From a liberty perspective, it is outrageous that a Nanny State should dictate what are "reasonable" sized portions.  Until the soda police are tasked to intercede against consumers buying more than their reasonable portion of beverages, the thirsty can buy multiple drinks.  But I don't think that NYC restaurants will give the same volume discount as when you Super-Size.  And for that matter, what business is it of the government to tell its citizens how to live.  Oh, yeah there's Obamacare.  And the meme at the Democrat National Convention in Charlotte, we were told that we belong to the government.

 New York establishments have nine months to comply before facing a $200 fine.  But this vote may not be the end of the subject.  New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a soda industry inspired coalition, have gathered 250,000 signatures protesting the super sized sugary soda ban.  And lawsuits are pending.

Alas, Nanny Bloomberg's crusade against super sized sugary sodas is not the only prominent instance of progressive food fascism.  This year, First Lady Michelle Obama greeted students around the country with the White House message for the new school year.

Much of the kick-off message was to sell the New School Lunch Requirements, a policy passion of FLOTUS.  The new nutritional requirements, enforced by the USDA,  include more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat free and low fat milk, and a reduction in the sodium content.  Parents note that in lower elementary school, serving are limited to 650 calories, which is enough for some kids but seems like a snack to a growing child. There is pressure for cafeterias to have "Meatless Mondays".  And these nutritional aspirations only work if children eat what is dished out in Lunch Lady Land.  Replacing hot dogs with "whole wheat pasta" is a dicey proposition with finicky kids palates.  The food nannies think that greasy hamburgers can be substituted with black bean burgers.

 Los Angeles Schools had a healthy school lunch program which was a model for the new national rules, but students report that they eat more junk food than before healthy meals with smuggled food.  There were reports that much of the healthy food went untouched into the trash.  Time will tell if the New School Lunch Requirements nationally will satisfy students or if it will better feed the trash.

Food Fascism in the schools is not just a well intentioned imposition of unpalatable options on kids. Last year, some Chicago Public Schools banned students from brown bagging lunches.  This move was couched in public health justifications but it conveniently enriched Chartwell-Thomas, the designated CPS cafeteria vendor.  And of course it kept the SEIU cafeteria employees busy.  Then there was the officious school lunch inspector in South Carolina which prevented a preschooler from eating her prepacked lunch because of nutrition requirements (got to meet the national standard) and had her eat three chicken nuggets (a healthy choice--not!) and billed her parents a couple of dollars for their "mistake".  Let us not forget the Portland Oregon school principal who in a courageous conversation posited that eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be linked to "white privilege".

Isn't progressive food fascism a super sized serving of fun?  If it a danger then use the legislative (not regulatory) process and ban it with public consent.  If there are health concerns educate and control your own government establishments.  Otherwise, leave private enterprises alone and let educated consumers decide for themselves.


Anonymous said...

"food fascism" - interesting. Because those who are responsible for food production aren't at all interested in profits and would never jeopardize the health and safety of the consumers at the expense of making "sweeter" "yummier" and cheaper products that are more profitable....

El Barroco said...

Trokspot's short screed is unclear as to whether it equivocates profit motive between corporations and the Nanny State or if evil food production influences jeopardize the health and safety of consumers to make yummier products.

Trokspot's own commentary on the Super Size Sugary Soda ban embrace the contradiction that Trokspot would limit consumer's liberty interest in soft drinks yet the writer endorses the decriminalization of marijuana.

So the Nanny State for beverages but don't let "the man" stop sparking up. OK--whatever!