Bloomberg Wants To Mini-Size Your Coke

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to fix his city’s obesity problem yesterday and by many media accounts he has succeeded.  No longer will 58% of New Yorkers be overweight.  Residents of the Big Apple will be melting off their pounds in the coming days.  Who knew solving such problems of public health was as simple as limiting the size of the cups from which we drink?

Bloomberg has long been the mayor that has decided that he knows best what New Yorkers should eat.  He’s declared war on trans fats and salt.  He now has Atlanta’s Coca Cola Company squarely in his sights.  His current obsession to limit caloric intake is to ban restaurants from selling non-diet soft drinks larger than 16 ounces.  His arbitrary limit will not apply to grocery and convenience stores.  It will not preclude free refills.  Customers will be allowed to buy multiple drinks.

Also exempt: Milk shakes.  Only a bureaucrat can give an 800 calorie alternative to someone that wants a larger beverage than a 180 calorie soft drink and think he is part of solving a problem.

Bloomberg’s action demonstrates much that is wrong with modern public policy.  By his own statements, he mocked the rest of the country for wringing their hands over the obesity problem and proudly trumpeted that New York is “doing something”.

Anytime a government official justifies a program by “doing something”, you should quickly and swiftly understand that the person is telling you he is about to dazzle you with a demonstration of his awesome power. He is about to control your life without regard for, or any expectation of, actual results toward solving an underlying problem.

In Bloomberg’s case, he has been pushing for policy at his state legislature for years to tax sugary soft drinks and other items he deems unhealthy.  In the true spirit of representative government, the legislature and governor have not deemed that a proper solution to the obesity problem is not within Bloomberg’s proposal.  Bloomberg is now exercising government by autocracy to impose his personal will through using the city’s public health board to enforce his edict.

The result will be new rules and regulations that are easily circumvented, with people now applauding that we have done something about a problem without doing anything.  The truth of the matter is that we all understand that the solution to the nations’ obesity problem lies in the individual taking responsibility for their own well being.  Fly-by ineffective regulation makes us feel as if we’ve done something to encourage others to do better without investing any energy to actually figure out what a solution would need to look like, or more importantly, what government’s proper role in that solution would be, if any.

To be clear, obesity and the related Type II diabetes epidemic is a real problem.  The costs of obesity to public health do invite consideration of additional government scrutiny.  The Bloomberg policy to limit cup sizes is an insult to public health and to public policy.

My father lost his battle with diabetes at age 62.  He drank diet soft drinks or water, never a full sugar beverage.  The Bloomberg policy wouldn’t have helped him or most others, regardless if they followed rules or not.  And it’s frankly difficult to think of a government program or new regulations that would have affected his behavior much if any.

“Doing Something” may make Bloomberg and those who wish government would intrude more into our everyday lives feel good for a moment.  But doing nothing will have the same result as his proposed policy.  And in a few years, when New York still have the same obesity rate, he or someone else is likely to do something else, but leave the new ineffective rule in place.

That’s how government works, or more specifically doesn’t, as it continues to creep into our lives.  If only we could find a government policy to save us from people who feel the need to “do something”.



  1. James says:

    Is Bloomberg’s proposal a silly idea? Probably. Is it good evidence that the government is “intrud[ing] more into our everyday lives?” No way. It’s not even a good way to start a slippery slope argument on that point.

    Call me crazy, but “the government can take my 64 oz Big Gulp when they pry it from my cold, dead (and morbidly obese) hands” doesn’t sound like a very compelling bumper sticker.

    • Calypso says:

      Citizen, our committee likes your thinking. Please line up with a few chosen others in the room behind me.

      Take no worry, we will notify your family of your well-being, and explain to them your absence.

      • Rick Day says:

        Dude, I TOLD you to stop watching those Soviet Propaganda films on the YouTubes!

        It’s warping your sense of reality, again.

  2. Jimmie says:

    This makes me angrier than a fire ant. Hopefully all those fat bast*ard Libtards will finally see that the Gov’t at all levels is out of control!

    • Rick Day says:

      So I assume you are willing to pay extra for all the Health Care that could have been avoided with some prudent planning? Because that is your option.

      Also, send link where the cup size of a soda was a political issue for you? I mean, come on, why stop at 64oz? Lets go for a 55 gallon BIG DRUM! What? Too big? WHAT KIND OF NANNY STATER ARE YOU?

      So can I call you a 64’er? Sheesh, it’s only water, syrup, bubbles, corporate profit and high fructose corn syrup, dude, not your guns!

      tl;dr : “too big is subjective”. The problem is real.

      • Jimmie says:

        I don’t give a rat’s a*s about 32 oz soda. It’s the principle behind it and obviously you have no idea what being free really means. That’s ok though, you won’t miss what you never understood in the first place.

        • Pretty much. I very rarely ever drink a non-diet soda. But from time to time, I do go through the drive through of Taco Bell and get a large Mountain Dew Baja Blast. Sure, it’s probably not as healthy for me as an unsweet tea, but we all like a little variety in our lives sometimes, right? Should I have to buy two 16 oz drinks just to get a “large” for those times where I feel like indulging?

          I’m not obese and certainly don’t need the government’s help in making eating choices. But if we’re going to limit the size of sodas that eating establishments are allowed to serve, why stop there? Why not prevent them from selling anything made from wheat or corn or soy while they’re at it? How about outlawing the vegetable oil that is full of omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids that they cook the fries in? Or are all those things in the works and this is just the first (next) step? Sometimes it feels like they should rewrite part of the Star Spangled Banner by removing the “land of the free” part. But I guess “land of the somewhat free” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            “But if we’re going to limit the size of sodas that eating establishments are allowed to serve, why stop there? Why not prevent them from selling anything made from wheat or corn or soy while they’re at it? How about outlawing the vegetable oil that is full of omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids that they cook the fries in? Or are all those things in the works and this is just the first (next) step?”

            You hit the nail right on the head as this is actually the latest/next step in a series of government power-expanding actions that have already been set in motion.

            In many places, they’ve already banned smoking virtually everywhere (except in private homes), trans-fats in cooked foods (in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York), sweets in schools even for holiday parties and kick returns from out of the endzone in high school football.

            And they are already working on banning ALL forms of distracted driving (eating, tuning the radio, etc) because they admit that they haven’t been able to collect as much revenue as they would like on laws that only ban texting while driving.

            Now, like you, I don’t always like to partake in unhealthy behaviors, sometimes I do like to indulge from time-to-time, but even though I agree that these are unhealthy behaviors, I also agree with the principle that these initiatives that ban what people can eat and drink further erode our freedoms while giving government give way-too-much power.

            But then again, these are the same people that openly admit that they would come for all of our privately-owned guns and take away our God-given Constitutional Right to Bear Arms if they could get away with doing so…Over my dead body, of course.

  3. saltycracker says:

    Come on – it may be just that Bloomberg is short soft drink stocks…..

    If obesity was bad the Feds wouldn’t be buying them $12,000 electric wheelchairs or providing disability perks for related issues would they ? The smart health companies will charge a mean premium for obesity &/or smoking and the Feds will fight it as discriminatory.

    Next: a law to prohibit bars from selling a customer more than one 12 oz. alcoholic beverage.
    That will destroy Peach Pundit.

  4. Rick Day says:

    “First, they came for the Big Gulps™, but I did nothing.”

    Normally this intrusion would bother me. But…

    Today, while sitting in my PCP’s waiting room with 20 elderly and obese (coincidentally, all African Americans), the Headline News came on about this.

    They looked up with interest, until the Head started prattling about how sodas are linked to Diabetes and other FatLife© diseases.

    They all kind of looked…away…down…you know; anywhere but at themselves. My Rx told me that 78% of his patents are diabetic.

    Welcome to the Land of Big Gulp and SweetTea™

    This is no different than the argument for seat belt laws, helmet laws and other such Nanny Staters. But some citizens have become such RETARDED consumers ( in all colors, hues and classes, thanks to Madison Ave.) that perhaps some of us need a nanny.

    Now, pardon me while I go wash my mouth out with soap for typing this Very Unpleasant Truth.

    • saltycracker says:

      Many retarded consumers will change behavior when we stop enabling them with public funds/benefits.

      Should we hold restaurants libel for selling beer & fries to fatties ?

      But, if you appoint me head nanny, I’m with you.
      Anything less and we’re looking at big nanny butts.

  5. seenbetrdayz says:

    There was a time in this country when, if someone made bad health decisions, that person died, and served as an example for the living as to what not to do.

    Nowadays, we pay politicians to make bad decisions, refuse to learn from them, and vote the politicians back into office.

  6. Newtonian says:

    Once again those who propose laws have never passed through the portals of those they seek to regulate. Most fast food locations are self serve and sell both sweet and diet type drinks. So I assume we must post someone by the dispenser to make sure that no one refills their drink before leaving the premises right? Or if larger cups are available, watch to make sure that the “correct” drink is filled?

    This must be a “jobs” bill.

  7. SallyForth says:

    I just want him to mini-size my butt. And while he’s at it, maybe a little off the waist.

    Now where’d I put that sweet tea?

  8. saltycracker says:

    If Bloomberg really wanted to get attention to the problem he would raise the City employee health premium for those with controllable obesity. Private industry would follow.

  9. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    “Bloomberg Wants To Mini-Size Your Coke”

    How about we “mini-size” Bloomberg’s humongous oversized self-inflated ego, instead.

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