For conservatives and libertarians, those elected officials who exercise power wisely, prudently and with restraint deserve to be known as good public officials. By this standard, Michael Bloomberg is easily one of the worst mayors in the country — if not the worst.
Throughout his 11 years as mayor, Bloomberg has consistently used his power to force his personal agenda onto the citizens he was elected to serve. Having already launched campaigns against firearms, public gatherings, trans-fats, smoking and salt, Bloomberg now wants to outlaw large-sized soft drinks containing sugar. A compliant Board of Health will almost certainly ratify the mayor’s proposal.
The rationale behind Bloomberg’s latest control crusade is rooted in his twisted view of the role of government — as a mechanism to force citizens to bend to the will of government officials. In this instance, the mayor has decided people are too fat and that large-sized soft drinks are to blame. Because he believes that New Yorkers are too stupid to decide for themselves what to ingest, the mayor has concluded that the only way to resolve the city’s obesity problem is to make it illegal for restaurants to sell non-diet soft drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces.
The timing of Nanny Bloomberg’s crusade against large-sized drinks could not have been worse. New Yorkers, like all of us in the northern hemisphere, are headed into the dog days of summer. Parts of the country have already seen 90-plus degree heat. What better way to wind down a hot day than with a cold soda? According to Bloomberg, you can still do that, but you better not be so parched that a 16-ounce drink cannot slake your thirst. If you try to score a larger drink, the Cola Cops will swoop in.
Bloomberg has fired back at critics, explaining on MSNBC in a typical non sequitur that his proposal does not infringe on anyone’s rights; rather he is “simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup.”
Those who actually understand the real world point out that Bloomberg’s latest attack on individual freedom will, by itself, have little effect on obesity in the Big Apple. As Trevor Butterworth explained in The Daily Beast, “The evidence that soda has been the lead driver of the obesity epidemic is larded with assertion rather than hard data. The randomized control trials that have managed to almost eliminate sugary drink consumption showed no statistically significant weight loss over time, except for those who were obese and high soda consumers to begin with; sugary soda consumption has been declining.”
Even Bloomberg admits his mandate likely will not stop restaurant patrons from purchasing multiple sodas or picking up their favorite drinks from grocery stores, which are exempt from the proposed regulation. Milkshakes, which are by no means “healthy,” also are exempt. Of course, between now and the end of his term next year, milkshakes and other “fattening” foods such as pizza may become targets of the mayor’s wrath.
Are Bloomberg’s latest actions indicative of good governance? Not by any legitimate standard. Do his actions illustrate an arrogant misuse of government power? Clearly. Will the people of New York tolerate this nanny-ism run amok? If recent history is any guide, they may. Traumatized by the 9/11 attacks, New Yorkers in the last decade have succumbed to all manner of expanded government control of their lives at the hands of Bloomberg and other city officials.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003 and was the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee in 2008. He provides regular commentary to Daily Caller readers.