Bloomberg Soda Ban Ignites Controversy. What’s Next?

June 18, 2012
68 Views

I’m a gastroenterologist and I should be against obesity.

I’m a gastroenterologist and I should be against obesity. I should counsel patients who have reached a designated rung on the body mass index (BMI) ladder on the risks of carrying excessive poundage and the benefits of achieving a more streamlined silhouette. I should encourage them to pursue a regular pattern of exercise and to choose food and beverage items wisely. I should advocate that the optimal tactic to achieve and maintain weight loss is to adopt a sustainable lifestyle change, rather than engage in a short distance sprint.

Any controversy so far? I doubt it. While I want my patients, and indeed everyone, to make wise choices in life, I won’t make them do it. Doctors advise and patients decide. Intelligent folks who know the risks of their choices are entitled to make them freely.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a RINO (Republican in name only), has recently issued a citywide sugary drink ban that has made news across the country and beyond. While there are loopholes that will allow some of the sugary spirits to pass through, the ban is still far reaching and will leave many New Yorkers parched. Did the governor choose wisely here?
There’s a conflict between an individual’s right to make personal choices and the state’s obligation to create sound public policies to serve the greater good. The governor and his acolytes argue that the millions of excessive pounds that are weighing down the Big Apple are costing the city gazillions of dollars in lost productivity and medical expenses. Opponents reel from another governmental edict controlling their personal lives.

If you agree with Bloomberg, then how far can and should the government go to control our behaviors? Who makes the decisions on what activities we engage in, us or the government? Who decides if an activity is meritorious or injurious?

If you support the soda ban, explain why you wouldn’t support the following proposals.

  • Ice cream and candy will now be available only by a doctor’s prescription.
  • Any individual who is 10 pounds over ideal body weight, as defined by the government, will be terminated.
  • Cigarette use will now be criminalized and convicts confined until they are rehabilitated to protect their health and the rest of us from the scourge of second hand smoke.
  • Car owners of gasoline engines will be taxed heavily to encourage electric car use. Society is entitled to clean air and polluters must pay a price.
  • Those who selfishly won’t exercise and are at risk for medical complications that the rest of us have to pay for, will have a percentage of their wages garnished.
  • Every Monday the government will choose a designated food item that it deems to be not healthful and it will be banned for the entire week. Restaurants, grocery stores and food trucks will delight in wondering when their ‘number will come up’. The government can set up a lottery where the public can wager on which ingestible item will be that week’s contraband. Revenue can be used to fund the special ‘cigarette police’ who will be working in 3 shifts rounding up inhalers.

Every day, diet soda and other caffeinated liquids slide down my gullet. Does this promote better health? Probably not, but I want the choice of what I can eat and drink. Let’s have some perspective here. I’m not asking for the right to drive 90 miles per hour on the highway which threatens the state’s interest much more than it would protect my right to speed on the open road. Banning soda and other sweet elixirs doesn’t meet this test. Indeed, if government encroachment continues, it may drive many of us to drink. See you at ‘happy hour’.

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