Skip to comments.A Modest Defense of "Nanny Bloomberg" (Why a free market economist cautiously favors the soda ban)
Posted on 06/07/2012 4:39:42 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Michael Bloomberg seems to have a knack for bringing out almost everybody's inner libertarian. The billionaire mayor of New York has spent an inordinate amount of his three terms trying to take away our cigarettes, trans-fats - and now, the Big Gulp! Even Jon Stewart couldn't resist the path of least comedic resistance, defending his demographic's right to drown itself in buckets of Berry Citrus Slam Slurpee.
As a card-carrying free market economist, I'm uneasy about the proposed ban, too. For one thing, it's a bit arbitrary: Starbucks' equally sugary venti (24 ounce) Caramel Frappuccino clocks in at 510 calories, but will probably be exempt because it contains milk. For another, it singles out sugar and high fructose corn syrup for chastisement when the specific linkage to obesity and diabetes is still largely circumstantial. And did we mention that the regulation may prove to be regressive? Lots of low-income Americans eat lots of fast food, and supersized drinks are a lot cheaper by the ounce.
But the real question here is the sanctity of consumer choice: If people want to drink soda by the gallon, and their behavior affects them alone, why is it the business of the state to say otherwise? Actually, that way of phrasing the issue opens the door to one theoretical justification for the regulation: If excessive sugar consumption makes you ill, others bear some of the net cost in the form of government-subsidized medical treatment -- and thus deserve a say in how much you consume.
In this case, the "externalities" argument seems pretty flimsy. As noted above, there's no smoking gun linking sugar to illness. Equally to the point, all manner of lifestyle decisions affect the probability of illness, and the business of picking which to regulate is a slippery slope. Remember, too, that, even if there is an externality to sugar consumption, its magnitude surely varies enormously from individual to individual. Why should well-insured slim folks who spend their free time at the gym be treated the same as obese individuals with a family history of diabetes and no insurance coverage?
In the end, though, I cautiously favor the mandate, and think I can justify the position without being drummed out of the Milton Friedman Appreciation Society. Start with the reality that the market for soda is not "efficient" in the sense that it probably doesn't equate value to the full cost. The biggest consumers of big, sugary drinks are young, and therefore almost certainly more inclined toward myopia than grownups who somewhat better understand that what folks put in their mouths affects the quality and length of their lives. So, someday, they are likely to regret their freedom to harm themselves.
CLICK ABOVE LINK FOR THE REST...
A message to Mayor Doomberg,Moochelle Obama (and others):
What I eat is an intensely private matter between me and my doctor!
BS, its the same argument we get every single time. Government creates problem (sugar tariffs), industry responds (HFCS), cheap soda is plentiful, government has to “fix” the problem.
This guy is as free market as the communist(S) running for president.
Society has agreed that if something in the market can be defined as “too bad for you to decide for yourself”, then the government can step in. Those are the parameters in effect today. Just ask the DEA.
So it’s not surprising that others are always making the case for one thing or another to fall into that category. It’s like the old joke: We’ve already figured out what we are, now we’re just haggling over the details.
When someone starts out claiming to be a “card carrying free market economist” I am braced for the big “but,” just like the seminar callers who claim to agree with Rush, but.....
I’m guessing a click on the link will yield more of the same fertilizer. This statement seems to sit there unexamined like a half ton of gorilla:
“If excessive sugar consumption makes you ill, others bear some of the net cost in the form of government-subsidized medical treatment — and thus deserve a say in how much you consume.”
Even self-styled free market capitalists now suffer from the “don’t see” syndrome. Govt subsidized medical treatment is the problem, but if you accept it, you wind up advocating idiotic nanny statism.
Others do NOT “deserve a say” in your consumption of soda. Others should not have a financial stake in you or a govt imposed claim on you and the consequent “say” in your behavior.
Whether it’s imposed by the sword or by nanny regulation, it’s still tyranny in the end. You are property. To protect others’ investment, you will eventually have to do more than avoid soda. And that’s the intention.
If this guy believes the government can dictate portions on citizens, he is not a free market economist. Period.
Yep, and this line is particularly telling:
“a nation having a collective hissy fit about intrusive government...”
The guy is a former NYTimes columnist and Columbia professor:
There is no way a “free market economist” would support, even 1%, any ban on freedom of choice like this.
Surprised the author doesn’t address the financial harm to lower income worker families as a result of this tax. Hard working construction workers will now have to buy multiple drinks thereby taking money out of the family budget that would have been spent on healthy food. Or perhaps he supports it because sales will increase on one of the highest profit items sold in restaurants and stores. As with any proposed legislation, the unintended consequences are not recognized or addressed. Bottom line to me is that free choice is being taken away from people. We are rapidly moving toward the scenarios deplicted in “Brave New World” and “1984”, yet the younger generation fails to see the potential harm of a collective society in which freedoms are lost. People came to America because of a quest for individual freedom, and now it is being taken away. I fear for the future of America unless we can get back to the basics on which this country was founded.
Why isn’t there a discussion of where they claim to find constitutional authority for this crap?
After listening to Rush, last night I bought a 16oz “drink” of soda. I bought an extra, empty “big cup” and strained the liquid soda into the second cup. Let me tell you, there was a hell of a lot LESS than 16oz of actual soda in the second cup and a LOT of ice in the first.
Haven’t read that anywhere else.
RE: Why isnt there a discussion of where they claim to find constitutional authority for this crap?
This was brought up and Bloomberg’s response was he is NOT the Federal government. His administration is LOCAL government with jurisdiction only in NYC. Therefore, according to him, the constitution (which limits the powers of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT), does not apply to him.
He then quotes James Madison:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.
The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule. ~ H.L. Mencken
And Bloomberg WAS correct. Until the 14th amendment and doctrine of “incorporation.”
Start state 'charity'.
Remove any sense of 'deserving poor' in said recipients.
Increase the benefits until it the taxpayer feels pain
Stoke resentment with stories of food stamps buying luxuries.
Turn the recipients into wards of the state, with the status of children who must be controlled.
Start controlling what they do, say, eat and think.
Force everybody (Obamacare) into 'charity' recipients, and thus the status of wards of the state.
Control what they do, say, eat, think.
And at the end of it, TPTB and the idiots who vote for them get to pat themselves on the back for having empathy and 'helping' the poor.
If excessive sugar consumption makes you ill, others bear some of the net cost in the form of government-subsidized medical treatment — and thus deserve a say in how much you consume.
This libertarian has a great love of economic freedom (materialism) and a total void in love for individual freedom. This mentality leads to social marxism - a government entering into and dictating everyone’s lives for total control.
That is what stinks about libertarians and why they find so much in common with socialists. They would be outraged if the government controlled their sexual behavior which also leads to massive public health cost. Libertarians are basically materialistic, amoral and unethical idiots.
No need to click — you’ve posted his argument. It’s the “nobody got rich on his own” school of thought.
What liberals would do if this was say, conservatives banning immoral sexual behavior due to his collective social cost, is join them.
They would target something conservatives enjoy doing and outlaw it. Hence to defeat this conservatives should go for banning a vice liberals love, using the health care collective as a rationale, and when they buck it, call them hypocrits. Make them live up to their own standards!
Yeah, let’s go after Starbuck’s (24 ounce) Caramel Frappuccino... let’s show the liberals we can be control-freak jerks too.