Soda bans reflect troubling decline in individual responsibility
If there’s one thing lawmakers around the world lack, it’s self-control. Greece, Spain and France have spent themselves into bankruptcy. California is struggling with a $15.7 billion deficit and our nation with $15.7 trillion in debt. Instead of dealing with the weighty problems of their own creation, public officials focus on a weight problem that is none of their concern. Thus, we have crusades against soda pop.
Henrietta Davis, mayor of Cambridge, Mass., introduced a resolution Monday that seeks to have her town outlaw “soda and sugar-sweetened beverages in restaurants.” Her inspiration is New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who this month renewed his push to force restaurants to limit the size of a Coke or Pepsi to 16 ounces or be hit with a $200 fine.
New York’s health department claims a third of residents are overweight and nearly a quarter are obese. Mr. Bloomberg insists the government’s interest in preventing obesity gives it the authority to limit sugary drink sizes in the same way it micromanages trans fats in foods and lead in paint. On that point, he’s right.
Too often, Americans are willing to cede control over their lives to politicians. If the government can force us to use mercury-filled light bulbs, ban smoking in bars, outlaw plastic bags in grocery stores and even prohibit Happy Meals at McDonald’s, it should come as no surprise that something as innocuous as a carbonated drink would be next on the list. Feel-good proposals of this sort are evaluated according to the intentions of their proponents, not their likely result. The public tends to give it a pass because it’s a matter of health and safety.