“Do what I say, if you know what’s good for you.” Who said this? a) John Gotti; b) your father; c) Mayor Bloomberg.
If you’re a real New Yorker, you know the answer is “c”.
First Bloomberg decreed no smoking in public places, and I was deliriously happy. I’d grown tired of restaurant confrontations. Just getting over a bad cough and cold one winter, I sipped my chicken soup in peace. A woman sat beside me at the restaurant counter, ordered coffee and began smoking.
When I politely asked her to stop, she refused and smiled “Nothing personal, but I enjoy a cigarette with my coffee.” When I smiled back and said that I enjoy flinging soup–”nothing personal”–she left in a huff.
Oliver Wendell Holmes said “The right to swing your fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” So does, I believe, the right to puff on a cigarette.
But it’s gone further. Bloomberg has moved on to decree that restaurants post calorie counts on each item, while totally banning trans-fats. Hmm, I guess that’s ok, with the obesity epidemic a drain on our health care system and all. And saving lives is a good thing, right?
These days, Mayor Mike seems to be taking the increasingly frequent “nanny state” accusations hurled against him as a badge of honor. He is now prodding the Feds to allow him to ban the purchase of soda and other sugary drinks with food stamps.
This proposal has drawn the ire of advocates for the poor, claiming discrimination. But hey, food stamps are paid for by our taxes, so don’t we have a right to insist they’re not used on nutritionally empty colas and such that contribute to obesity?
Now our nurturing Mayor wants to protect us from salt. New York City’s Health Department has launched a “voluntary” campaign aimed at dramatically cutting our salt content and “saving thousands of lives,” according to Health Commissioner Thomas Farley.
Salt is a necessary part of our diet, and its adverse effects are less clear than tobacco or sugary drinks. Nonetheless, the city is plastering subway stations with ads targeting soup as the top offender. The campaign costs $370,000, $130,000 of which comes from city taxpayers.
This is starting to make me twitchy. I’m having nightmares of a future where city cops drag me off my couch while I’m watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, confiscate my corned beef sandwich and demand I get off my butt and run for three miles.
Ridiculous? I guess. But the thought of our city government using our money for scare tactics about chicken soup instead of leaving us to consult with our doctors and make our own decisions seemed equally ridiculous not long ago.
The irony is, Mayor Bloomberg has admitted his tendency to salt everything in sight, as well as a weakness for junk food. He regularly eats pizza, hot dogs and Big Macs in public, with a particular love for Cheez-Its. If I see him with a bag, can I snatch it from his hand “for his own good?”
And this double standard doesn’t just apply to “bad for you” products. Bloomberg recently dodged the city’s two-term limit law, using political muscle to get around it. Now that he’s in his third term, Bloomberg is solidly declaring his support for two term limits. Do as I say, not as I do, Mike?
All I know is, Mommy Mayor’s next step better not be targeting my goopy, delicious Dunkin’ Boston Creme. If Bloomberg dares try that, to paraphrase the late Charleton Heston, he’ll have to pry that donut from my dead, sticky fingers.