The PJ Tatler

Government 'Probably' Shouldn't Force People to Exercise: Bloomberg

What a relief. The thought of seeing Bloomberg in exercise clothing was giving me a sour stomach.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg may be one of the world’s biggest proponents of government action to promote public health, but Hizzoner has his limits. In his weekly radio appearance on John Gambling’s radio show, the mayor was asked whether he would consider ordering mandatory gym memberships and he admitted that’s taking things too far.

“Well, you have to be practical about what legally you can do and what people will do,” said Mr. Bloomberg. “The nice thing about the soda thing is it’s really just a suggestion. So, if you want to buy 32 ounces, you just have to carry it back to your seat in two cups. And maybe that would convince you to only take one, but if you want two you can do it. I think government’s job … is to give you advice, not to force you do things.”

So that’s why government was created. Forget Locke. Forget Montesquieu. Forget Hobbes, Madison, and Jefferson. Government is there to give us advice — sort of like paying Dear Abbey $3.7 trillion to tell us how to get out of that terrible relationship, or what position we should use during sex that will keep him from straying.

“Although there are some things we try and force you to do,” he continued. “If there’s asbestos in the classroom or your office building, we force you out. If you want to drink and drive, we try and stop you–although sometimes not as successfully as you’d like. … I think some of these other things–calorie counts we’ve done in chain restaurants so you can see what you’re eating–[are okay]. But when it comes to forcing you, … the only thing the government can do practically–and I think should do–is education. Exercise is great for you, but how do you convince people to do it? And should you force them to do it? Probably not.”

Here is a man who gets his rocks off forcing people to do stuff — in short, controlling people. You get the impression he truly regrets being unable to force citizens to join a gym and exercise their way to good health.

Even asking the question of whether government should force people to exercise reveals an authoritarian streak that makes Mayor Bloomberg a danger to liberty. He may be a billionaire. But he is wildly deficient in knowledge of how to govern prudently in America.