Soda and Public Health

Soda and Public Health

Last Thursday we heard about Mayor Bloomberg's plan to ban sugary drinks he considers "too large". While much of the reaction to this announcement was negative, surprising the mayor I'm sure, Gawker writer Drew Magary was extremely supportive of the ban, asking critics of the ban to "please, shut the fuck up."

Drew goes on, further attacking critics, stating this about America:

You are not free to murder people in America. You are not free to stand in the middle of an intersection and block traffic like an asshole. You do not have the absolute freedom to do anything you want in America, and that's a good thing, because living somewhere with absolute freedom means you live in fucking Deadwood. There are a million different laws and rules that come with being an American, and we, as a collective, put all those annoying rules in there of our own accord. Democracy doesn't mean "Hey you, go do whatever the fuck you want."

Ignoring for a moment that those rules Magary speaks of are in place to protect us from each other and not us from ourselves, should we be surprised by his and the Mayor's position? One of the primary arguments for this kind of top-down control over human behavior, especially in the sphere of health, is that if we don't force people to live healthier lives, the public will have to foot the bill for the healthcare costs.

I understand the sentiment, but I laugh at the intellectual disconnect on display when people who clamor for the federal government to institute a "public-option" or even more government intervention in the healthcare and health insurance markets decry this kind of ban on soda. Don't they understand you can't have one without the other?

When the public funds everyone's healthcare, everyone's health becomes the public's business. If you don't want Joe Taxpayer making a stink about what you had for dinner last night or how many times you go to McDonald's or how often you exercise, then the only way to avoid that is to get taxpayer funds out of healthcare.

Magary mocked those who claimed this could be a gateway law, but in reality that's exactly what it is -- we've already seen bans on things like trans fats, so this is just another step in that same direction. It's not a big leap to think that politicians won't try to put restrictions or bans on more things they think you should consume less of. After all, they claim, it's for our own good.

I'm reminded of an episode of Stossel from a couple years ago (this isn't Bloomberg's first foray into nanny'ing the state's residents).