New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ideas about how his constituents should live their lives, and he is taking steps to ensure that they comply.
This weekend Bloomberg ordered the mandatory evacuation of 370,000 people from low-lying areas of New York City — which technically made it a crime to stay in the parts of the city he shut down. (RELATED: Irene fails to flush Old Guard from Tomb of the Unknowns)
Despite Bloomberg’s assurance that “nobody is going to get fined and nobody is going to go to jail, but if they don’t evacuate they could die,” the episode was reminiscent of Bloomberg’s other dictates over the years. As Walter Olson, senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies, pointed out, Bloomberg has made a name for himself as one of the most overbearing mayors in the country.
“Bloomberg is a national symbol of ‘for-your-own-goodism,’ if you want to call it that,” Olson said. “The idea that where we used to think you had rights to run your own life it turns out the government has a right to correct and second-guess you for your own good.”
Bloomberg has made it clear that New Yorkers should not be smoking, and he has taken action to make his desire a reality. In 2002, he instituted a ban on smoking in all restaurants and bars. This year he intensified it, extending the ban to city parks, beaches and public plazas.
DON’T EAT TRANS-FATS!
In 2006, New York City became the first city to ban trans fats in bakeries and restaurants.
“Nobody wants to take away your french fries and hamburgers — I love those things, too,” Bloomberg explained. “But if you can make them with something that is less damaging to your health, we should do that.”
BE AWARE OF CALORIES!
In 2008 Bloomberg instituted a regulation requiring chain restaurants to display calorie information on their menus.
STAY AWAY FROM SALT!
In early 2010 Bloomberg opened a new front in his health crusade, going to after salt with a so-called National Salt Reduction Initiative. The plan to urges companies to reduce the amount of salt in their products by 25 percent over five years.
SODA IS BAD!
Bloomberg has also been pushing for a tax on soda for New Yorker’s health — and the city’s revenue.
“In these tough economic times, easy fixes to our problems are hard to come by,” he said. “But the soda tax is a fix that just makes sense. It would save lives. It would cut rising health care costs. And it would keep thousands of teachers and nurses where they belong: in the classrooms and clinics.”
Since Bloomberg’s fixes are meant to save New Yorkers from themselves, they have rubbed many the wrong way, earning him the nickname “Nanny Bloomberg.”
“Bloomberg’s actions show contempt for people, not concern for people. He has no qualms about government threats — including threats of violence by city police if need be — to force people to behave the way he wants,” said Steve Stanek, research fellow at The Heartland Institute. “He acts as if his beliefs, tastes and desires should outweigh the beliefs, tastes and desires of millions of New Yorkers and visitors to the city.”