Originally published in the Orange County Register by Will Coggin on March 5, 2019:
Only 6 percent of Californians are below the age of 5, but some state legislators think the whole state needs a nanny. From food to fashion, California state lawmakers are considering regulations that would stick the government’s nose into what people eat and wear in unprecedented ways that infringe on consumer choice.
Fresh off banning plastic straws, the legislature is contemplating a slate of bills to crack down on sugary drinks by taxing them, restricting the size of drink cups, and slapping warning labels on sugary drinks. It’s for your own good, say proponents.
The legislature is also considering a ban on the sale of fur coats following local bans in San Francisco and Los Angeles. PETA and other animal liberation activists lobbying for the law say it’s a moral issue—no one needs to buy a fur coat, so they shouldn’t be allowed to.
While proponents frame these bills as doing good for the public, consider the costs.
A tax on soda would be regressive and fall on lower-income people the hardest. And these taxes have never improved public health in other jurisdictions that have tried them. In fact, when New York City tried to pass a similar ban on drinks larger that 16-ounces, a UC San Diego study showed that people were more likely to buy more soda when they were constricted to smaller sizes.
If California bans fur, meanwhile, then clothing makers will switch to synthetic alternatives that are made of plastic (derived from fossil fuels) and take hundreds years to biodegrade. Given California just banned plastic straws to (supposedly) help fight plastic pollution in the oceans, is this really a good idea?
The state’s past forays meddling in choices haven’t ended any better.