On Wednesday we took a look at Big Apple Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s new proposal to ban poor people from buying soda with food stamps. As we pointed out, Hizzoner is talking out of both sides of his mouth (which is nothing new) by having his administration demonize soda while his own company offers free soda to its employees.
In a “teach a man to fish” editorial today, the Los Angeles Times takes Bloomberg’s grouchy new proposal to task, arguing that he would be better off educating people about good behavior than trying to make choices for them:
Food stamps were created to ensure that everyone has at least enough food for basic nutrition. Taxpayers might reasonably prefer that the hard-earned money they contribute to the common good not be used for junk food; after all, obesity and poor nutrition are serious and costly societal problems. But the purpose of the program is to aid people in need, not dictate their every mouthful in ways that most Americans would never allow to be imposed on themselves. What next? Outlawing corn chips with one's salsa? Birthday candles stuck in a bowl of brown rice instead of a cake?
As well intended as Bloomberg's latest campaign is, it cannot help being arbitrary. If the purpose is to reduce obesity, there's little reason to allow the use of food stamps to buy fruit juices, some of which contain little nutrition yet more calories than a Coke, while banning sports drinks that have fewer than half as many calories.
Scientists are still determining the chief contributors to obesity in our society. Too much sugar, oversized portions, high fat and the dearth of vegetables and exercise all play a role. Bloomberg should stick to campaigns to educate people — the menu law, and perhaps more nutrition education for children and families through the New York City school system, which he oversees. Infantilizing food stamp recipients, and making lifestyle choices for them that aren't made for other Americans, is a demeaning and, most likely, ineffective way to ensure a healthier populace.
Read the whole piece here.