New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, like many politicians across America, went into public service because of a desire to help people.
And, also like other elected officials, Bloomberg has taken his desire too far.
Bloomberg is on a mission to, as he has said, save New Yorkers from their destructive habits. He says most New Yorkers are overweight, which puts their health at risk. The mayor last year imposed a ban on high-calorie, sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas.
Those businesses and others went to court to quash the restriction because it was an “unprecedented interference” with consumer choice.
The ban, officially to be imposed by the city Health Department, was put on hold and the nation watched to see just how far government — local, state and perhaps, national — can go in saving us from ourselves.
On Monday, a New York Supreme Court justice barred the ban from becoming law Tuesday because it contained too many loopholes and the mayor, through the Health Department, overstepped his authority. This matter is within the jurisdiction of the New York City Council.
Bloomberg, to nobody’s surprise, has vowed to appeal until every avenue is exhausted.
Why? Trying to control people’s consumption of a legal product — from sugar drinks to candy to double cheeseburgers with extra mayo — is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. It can’t be done.
Those who want larger portions of what the government says is allowable will easily figure a way to get as much as they want. Figuring out a way to get 32 ounces of Dr. Pepper at a ball game or a movie (where it is dark) doesn’t require the skills of an international diamond thief.
The judge said as much in striking down the law.
“The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose,” the judge wrote. “It is arbitrary and capricious because it applies to some but not all food establishments.”
But while Bloomberg is off the mark in his desire for government to serve as a health nanny, he is absolutely correct that too much sugary drinks— or, frankly, just about any other drink or food consumed — isn’t good in huge portions all the time.
Moderation is the key, and its reasonable for government to educate people on good-eating habits.
Consumers should have the freedom to buy as much of a product as they want. Some folks want only a 12-ounce drinks while others insist on mugs for 128 ounces that look like swimming pools.
And private businesses should have the freedom to decide whether it’s a good business decision to offer or not offer certain products in whatever size they believe is good business for them.
Moderation is the key. It’s not the role of government to monitor calorie consumption. Ultimately, food consumption is — and should remain — personal.