In the midst of the debates about banning firearms with certain features, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s failed attempt to ban New Yorkers from drinking soft drinks he felt were too large, and the debate over whether or not same sex couples should have the ability to enter into a legal contract to have the same legal rights and responsibilities as married heterosexual couples, a thought occurred to me: “Gee there are a lot of people out there who just want to ban things!”
Why is this impulse so prevalent in our society? It seems that nearly everyone wants to be free to live their lives as they see fit. I haven’t met too many people who favor any notion of limiting their freedom because elected officials passed a law or majority of fellow citizens took a vote. When it comes to one’s own personal liberties, everyone is a libertarian! Consider that the Gadsen flag underneath the coiled rattlesnake reads: “Don’t Tread on Me.”
But far too many of these same people who jealously defend their own liberties are more than eager to limit someone else’s when that someone else engages in an activity that, for whatever reason, offends them. No, when it comes to other people, these people who don’t want their liberties tread on are not libertarian but majoritarian (i.e. political might makes right).
Back when I first heard about the proposed New York soda ban, I couldn’t believe anyone would suggest something that ridiculous. Seriously? A city putting limits to sizes on sugary drinks? They couldn’t be serious.
But they were serious. Then it was approved by New York’s Board of Health. Seriously. You can’t buy a 20-ounce Coke in New York City.
Now people in Washington D.C. are trying to get the soda ban in place there, as well. Apparently stupidity is contagious.
The issue came up at a debate for council seat candidates. Two current council members said they would support a ban like New York put in place. That got councilwoman Mary Cheh giddy with excitement. It was Cheh who tried unsuccessfully to put a larger tax on sugary drinks, so the thought that she could control what you drink in Washington – or at least how much of it you drink – is music to her ears.
And Cheh even knows that her position on this issue is going to bring criticism from, you know, people who have a brain. She said, “I know ‘nanny state’ and all that, but it’s appropriate for government to intervene at times to make sure that the choices that are presented are healthy for us.”
Her statement isn’t even kind of correct. It’s not ever appropriate for government to intervene to save you from yourself.
The Board of Health in New York has approved Bloomberg’s suggested soda ban. This weekend while working in the yard, I remembered my high school science teacher teaching that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. What would be the reaction to this soda ban?
The Action: These are the details of the plan, as reported here.
Under the plan, all restaurants, fast-food joints, delis, movie theaters, sports stadiums and even food carts will be barred from selling sugar-sweetened drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces.
The limits will not apply to drinks sold in grocery stores, diet sodas, drinks that are more than 70-percent fruit juice, or that contain alcohol.
Dairy drinks containing more than 50 percent milk will also be allowed thanks to their redeeming nutritional qualities — though that’s little solace for Frappuccino lovers since the Starbucks treats contain far less milk than that.
The Reaction: Here are some things we might expect to see as a result of the soda ban.
1. Marketing Gimmicks
While working in the yard this weekend, I tried to think of ways I would handle the ban if I owned a restaurant in New York City. Maybe a restaurant sells a large diet soda but lets the customer get it himself; he could just get a sugary option instead. Maybe the large size on the menu would become two separate 16-ounce cups.
New York Mayor Michael “Ban the Big Gulp” Bloomberg is at it again. This time, he’s voicing some ideas that are, quite frankly, beyond the idiocy he routinely spouts off. This time, he told CNN’s Piers Morgan that he thinks police officers should go on strike until guns are outlawed.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told CNN’s Piers Morgan last night that he doesn’t “understand why police officers across this country don’t stand up collectively and say we’re going to go on strike, we’re not going to protect you unless you, the public, through your legislature, do what’s required to keep us safe.”
First, Bloomberg is actually asking law enforcement officers - you know, the people who can actually arrest criminals, take them to jail, and all that - to go on strike to affect political change in this country? Really? That’s just downright terrifying…if any police officers were willing to actually do it.
The reason that it’s scary is that many people obey laws simply because of a fear of going to prison. If there are no police due to a strike, then that deterent is no longer there. Welcome to downright anarchy. Bloomberg isn’t a complete idiot, despite his comments. He knows this. What he’s basically asking is that police use extortion techniques on the American people to affect change in gun laws. Extortion happens to be a crime that police arrest people for!
But I’m sure Mayor Bloomberg won’t let that stop him.
“Find out just what people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them…The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” ~ Fredrick Douglass, Freed Slave and leader of the abolitionist movement
Having already made a name for himself nationwide with a crackdown on crime in the nation’s largest city, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani made his place in history permanent just over a decade ago with his inspiring and firm handling of the Muslim terrorist attacks of 9/11. In the aftermath of that attack, Giuliani brought a city and a nation together, refusing to allow bloodthirsty madmen the satisfaction ofour surrender. True, they dealt a devastating blow, but it was a sneak attack in a long war, and like Pearl Harbor, it would be answered with overwhelming force.
A decade later, third-term NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken up the mantle of leadership from the retired Giuliani, and also works diligently to protect the citizens of New York City. Admittedly, I have been highly critical of Bloomberg in the past, as when he accused the Times Square Bomber of being a disgruntled TEA Party member angry at the ObamaCare bill (as it turned out, it was an angry practitioner of Islam, the Pakistani-born Faisal Shahzad…but in Bloomberg’s defense, what were the odds that the bomber would turn out to be an angry Muslim? I’d say the odds were no more than 9.95 out of ten at best).
Last month, a handful of Democrats joined Republicans to defeat the Manchin-Toomey amendment, which would expand background checks, and the Assault Weapons Ban. Mayors Against Illegal Guns, anti-gun group founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been running ads against any Senator who voted against the measures, including Democrats, and now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is worried that it could hurt his party:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s aides met recently with staffers of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to warn them: Targeting vulnerable Democrats like Arkansas’s Mark Pryor on gun control could backfire on the party, several sources told POLITICO.
It didn’t work.
Ads from the Bloomberg-funded Mayors Against Illegal Guns are going up soon in Alaska, Arkansas and North Dakota — three states with Democratic senators who broke with the White House on last month’s background checks vote.
Of course, Reid and other Democrats want the anti-gun group to focus on the Republicans who voted against the gun control measures, which is completely intellectually dishonest.
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, there are new calls from a host of politicians who want Americans to give up their liberties. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) were among the first to say that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged bomber who was apprehended on Friday night, should be held as an “enemy combatant” and thus denied his constitutional right to due process.
Michael Bloomberg agrees. During a press conference on Monday, the New York City Mayor said that Americans should be willing to sacrifice their liberties — including their privacy — on the alter of security:
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday the country’s interpretation of the Constitution will “have to change” to allow for greater security to stave off future attacks.
“The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a press conference in Midtown. “But we live in a complex word where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.”
“Look, we live in a very dangerous world. We know there are people who want to take away our freedoms. New Yorkers probably know that as much if not more than anybody else after the terrible tragedy of 9/11,” he said.
“We have to understand that in the world going forward, we’re going to have more cameras and that kind of stuff. That’s good in some sense, but it’s different from what we are used to,” he said.
Written by Trevor Burrus, research fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies. Originally published on Monday, March 25, 2013, it has been cross-posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
In today’s New York Times, philosopher Sarah Conly gives “Three Cheers for the Nanny State,” specifically, NYC’s famed big soda ban. Invoking aspects of the theory of “nudge,” made popular in a book by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, Conly argues that, sometimes, the government can rightfully save us from ourselves.
The popularity of “nudge theory” is closely tied to the recent spate of popular science books on the foibles of the human brain. Books such as Predictably Irrational and A Mind of Its Own are part of a new self-help fad: the idea that scientists studying the error-prone human brain can help us understand why we are unable to quit smoking, lose weight, and many other common problems.
Written by Walter Olson, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Much legal commentary at Slate follows a pat formula: judicial activism is a genuine menace, but not from left or liberal jurists. It’s those awful judges on the conservative and libertarian side who engage in the real activism when they strike down laws and government initiatives, or as in the case of ObamaCare, come close to striking them down. To observe the formula at its most mechanical, check out Emily Bazelon’s Slate article last Wednesday portraying a judge’s striking down of Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on big soda sizes as a venture in “conservative judicial activism.”
New York City statist supreme Michael Bloomberg’s crowning jewel of government, his law banning sodas of more than 16 ounces, is now just a fond memory thanks to a judge according to the Wall Street Journal:
A state judge on Monday stopped Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration from banning the sale of large sugary drinks at New York City restaurants and other venues, a major defeat for a mayor who has made public-health initiatives a cornerstone of his tenure.
The city is “enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing the new regulations,” wrote New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling, blocking the rules one day before they would have taken effect. The city’s chief counsel, Michael Cardozo, pledged to quickly appeal the ruling.
In halting the drink rules, Judge Tingling noted that the incoming sugary drink regulations were “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences” that would be difficult to enforce with consistency “even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole.”
“The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of the rule,” the judge wrote. (Read the full text of the ruling.)