All of this obviously ignores longstanding cultural habits that might cause residents of poor neighborhoods to engage in unhealthy behaviors of all sorts. It’s one thing for bureaucrats to engage in public education campaigns in an effort to steer people away from unhealthy behavior, but another thing entirely to insult them and to argue that government must force them into making approved choices.
And people do already have choices. Even fast food restaurants now offer a variety of food, including salads, fruit, and yogurt, as well as soft drinks that come in a variety of sizes.
If government bureaucrats can ban the types of fast food outlets available, manipulate the size and types of drinks we can consume, and regulate every aspect of food preparation, what couldn’t they attempt to ban? Some studies have suggested that red meat is “unhealthy.” Will Bloomberg next propose a measure limiting red meat intake to one steak per month? Will the nanny state do-gooders ban hot dogs, or force Americans to take part in government exercise programs like those promoted by the first lady?
On the same day that Bloomberg was touting his ban on oversized sugary soft drinks, he was taken to task by a typically compliant member of the media. It seems that the mayor was also taking part in National Doughnut Day, causing even Matt Lauer, NBC’s consistently liberal host, to appear incredulous. He stated that Bloomberg’s support for a day celebrating doughnuts “sounds ridiculous,” as it coincided with his proposed drink ban.
There are far more pressing civic matters. Rather than have food fascists obsess over what we eat or drink, we should force a city bureaucrat like Bloomberg to concentrate on relieving taxation, to provide public schools that actually work, to deal with crime and violence, and to solve his city’s paralyzing traffic jams. Instead, he took us further down the slippery slope of infantilization.