Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nanny State Watch: NY To Ban Big Sugary Drinks

Link to NYT

I'm willing to listen to arguments on this of course, but this seems like a very bad way to proceed. Educate the public and hope for the best. But Big Mother doesn't have the right to tell us that we have to buy two normal sodas instead of one stupid big one.

(I think it's pretty dumb to drink a soda like that under normal conditions, but I've been known to suck down absurdly large quantities of sweet tea myself, so I've probably got no room to talk here.)

Furthermore, there is no reason to ban big sodas unless you're gong to ban big everything (food-wise). Soda is no worse for you than any other food item with the same amount of calories. The passionate conviction of the food puritans that there is something particularly bad about soda--other than, of course, the fact that they find it gauche--is based on flawed studies. It's a view driven by politics and aesthetic preferences, not science.

Finally, if no good reasons can convince liberals to oppose this kind of do-gooder-gone-bad meddling, note that conservatives will get lots of mileage out of this nonsense. They can ignore warnings about al Qaeda, let OBL get away, start disastrous wars, crash the economy, pander to the ultra-rich and obstruct the workings of government, and none of that will get the kind of traction with the public imagination that a ban on Mega Super Gulps will get. This consideration is not as weighty as the freedom-based considerations.


Anonymous Lewis Carroll said...

Tax it. Much better way to capture the cost of externalities.

That way we retain the maximum individual freedom without making non-consumers of the product in question pay for the hidden costs it carries.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

I'm of two minds about this.

In general, I tend to lean small-l-libertarian--what you do to yourself is your own business.

But as someone who did all of her course work for an Masters in Public Health (dropped out of the program when I had only my practicum left), things like sugary drinks ARE a problem, primarily because they allow you to take in 200 to 400 (or more) calories without knowing you've done so. Two large sweet teas is almost a quarter of my daily caloric intake (if I don't exercise).

Is banning the answer? Of course not. But empty calories ARE a problem that needs to be dealt with.

Personally, I'd like to see a junk food tax, with the proceeds used to offset the prices on fruit and other health foods (or to offset health care costs), but that'll never happen.

1:24 PM  

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