After Mike Bloomberg announced his latest proposal to fight obesity, limiting sales of sugary drinks in movie theaters and sports arenas to 16 ounces, my first thought was (with apologies to Woody Allen) I’ve got such strong mixed feelings about this!
The ugly truth is too many Americans and their children have turned into fat, lazy slobs, and a big reason is that we have normalized the ridiculous. A lone human being now purchases and consumes a vat of popcorn that used to suffice for a barnyard full of animals.
The truth is, the “Fattest Man In the World” at the old freak shows would now not even be the fattest man watching the event. Diabetes is out of control, as are health care costs, morbid obesity is no longer rare, and something obviously must be done.
So yes, I know exactly where New York’s mayor is coming from when he speaks of obesity’s very real public health menace. But then he adds that the 64 ounce Big Gulp soda “is not exactly what the Founding Fathers fought for.”
And on that he is dead wrong.
Not only is this exactly what the Founding Fathers fought for, the Mayor’s words also play into the hands of those who demonize government 24/7. You know, the ones who want to privatize everything from the police to the fire department, making everything “for profit”.
The ones eager to take Social Security, the most successful and humane government system in our history which has ended poorhouses and given seniors dignity, and hand that money to their Wall Street cronies to screw around with.
Despite what these righteous true believers think, the purpose of government (if they believe in it at all) is not to be “run like a business,” to maximize profit, but for the common good. You shouldn’t have your house burn down because you can’t afford private fire protection, and your child shouldn’t die because you can’t afford health care.
That being said, Bloomberg’s idea gives ammunition to those who believe that government power can be a slippery slope to the loss of basic American freedoms. If I want to eat a burger with cheese and bacon, that’s my business, and if some government flunky tries to take it from me, that’ll be the last thing he does.
It’s a bit odd that those who scream bloody murder about right-wingers who want to limit a woman’s right to control her own body or gays’ rights to marry are fine when government proposes limits on what we can eat or drink.
I agree with the Mayor’s ban on smoking in restaurants and other public places. My inhaling your cigarette smoke is most certainly not “your business”, because you are encroaching on my freedom to breath clean air.
But if you want to regularly drink vats of soda, I say you are absolutely free to do that. Just don’t complain to me or expect me to pay for it when you need hospitalization, and when you’re flying, yes, I expect you to pay for two seats and not intrude on my space!
OK, is there anyone I haven’t pissed off? No?
Then I’ve done my job.