Posted by David Boaz – May 31, 2012
“A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” sang a legendary nanny. But today’s most powerful nanny, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, won’t tolerate that. He plans to ban the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters, and even street carts, the New York Times reports.
Mayor Bloomberg has lots of facts at his fingertips: Many Americans are overweight. Consumption of sugar can cause weight gain. All true, and a good reason for Mike Bloomberg to watch his diet.
But why should he watch MY diet? And the diets of 8 million New Yorkers, most of them adults? If he thinks New Yorkers should consume less sugar, let him hold a press conference. But giving people information isn’t good enough for him. Sometimes he gives people information, and they still don’t act the way he thinks they should. So what’s a billionaire mayor to do? He could bribe them, I suppose. But as Otter said, that could take years and cost millions of lives. Well, millions of dollars anyway. So, like Otter, he’s decided to go with “a really futile and stupid gesture” instead.
When he’s in the mood, Mayor Bloomberg can give eloquent testimony to the virtue of freedom when it comes to Muslims –
America is a beacon of freedom, and no place defends those freedoms more fervently, or has been attacked for those freedoms more ferociously, than New York City.
– or gay people:
I have no doubt that in your lifetime, liberty’s light will allow us to see more clearly the truth of our nation’s founding principles, and allow us to see all people, and all couples, as full and equal members of the American family….If government can deny freedom to one, it can deny freedom to all.
But somehow when it’s the mayor’s own sensibilities that are offended, he forgets his eloquent defense of freedom. Suddenly, as White House chief of staff Andrew Card said of President Bush, Bloomberg “sees America as we think about a 10-year-old child.” A child who needs protection. A child who can’t make his own decisions. A child who needs a parent, or a nanny, to tell him what to eat and when to exercise.
In a free society, government doesn’t make our personal decisions for us. We don’t need a Big Brother or a mayoral nanny. We have the right and the responsibility to make our own decisions, so long as we don’t interfere with the rights of others. And even if we make what Mayor Bloomberg views as the wrong decisions.
And speaking of the mayor’s commitment to freedom, who exactly is going to impose this sweeping ban? Not the people, in a referendum. Not a constitutional convention. Not even the city council. This “far-reaching ban,” as the Times describes it, will be imposed on 8 million free citizens of New York by the city’s unelected Board of Health, all of whose members are appointed by . . . the mayor.