New York City, all too often the epicenter of the food police earthquake, has outdone even its own ridiculousness in trying to curtail consumer choice. Mayor Bloomberg, with the support of his hyperbolic when not outright deceptive Department of Health, intends to ban the sale by any restaurant, food cart, movie theater, stadium, or convenience store of any sugared beverage over 16 ounces.
Thus should die the idea that the food cops are only targeting supposedly oversized drinks. As the proposed regulation stands, a half-liter (16.9 ounce) bottled regular soda would be prohibited and to sell it at a Yankee Stadium concession stand would be an offense.
Bloomberg, whom Forbes reports is worth $19.5 billion and who would have no problem affording two medium mocha-flavored coffees rather than one large one if he chose to have them, astonishingly claims he isn’t reducing consumer choice:
Your argument, I guess, could be that it’s a little less convenient to have to carry two 16-ounce drinks to your seat in the movie theater rather than one 32 ounce. I don’t think you can make the case that we’re taking things away.
Sure we can, because he is. Having failed to adopt the sure-to-fail and utterly reviled policy of sin taxation, having failed with menu labeling, and having failed to gross out New Yorkers, Bloomberg and his army of food police have apparently decided their subjects—excuse us, citizens—are just too dumb. Now Bloomberg has chosen to adopt Prohibition by steps. (Because Prohibition worked so well the first time!) Even we thought that was beyond the “Overton Window,” but America’s richest food nanny has outdone even his “high” standards.
In their hearts, the food police believe what Robert Lustig cavalierly proclaims: Soda—indeed any food that brings pleasure—must be driven from the palate of the human race. They ignore the evidence that soft drinks alone do not cause obesity. They ignore the role that sedentary lifestyles play in causing weight gain.
And don’t think it ends with regular soda and large coffee drinks: Even with national soda Prohibition still a thing of Lustig’s (and quite possibly Bloomberg’s) dreams, the food police are putting fruit juice in their gun-sights.
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? This precedent could put all those on the table, and we’d hate to see what that could do to the city’s vibrant food heritage and consumer freedom.