Bloomberg's Soda Ban

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Our own Molly Ball sketches takes a look The Glorious Leader's latest initiative


Particularly now that his time in office is running out, Bloomberg operates with a measure of impunity unique among major American political figures. Call him "Nanny Bloomberg" all you want; as the soda controversy indicates, he's not afraid to push for unpopular policies on the assumption that eventually, a grateful populace will thank him for his foresight. 

In an interview, the New York City Health Commissioner, Thomas Farley, said public opinion is important, but when it comes to health, it's not the most important thing. "Sure, we care what people think, and we have reason to think a lot of people are supporting of this," he said. "The other thing, though, is that we have a board of health in New York City for a reason, and that is to take the issue of protecting the health of citizens out of the political process and put it in the hands of health experts. "You wouldn't respond to a cholera outbreak, he argued, by putting it to a vote, and "obesity is a crisis." 

Farley and other supporters of the proposal -- which would make it illegal to sell most high-sugar-content drinks in sizes larger than 16 ounces -- point to Bloomberg's previous paternalistic initiatives, particularly his move to ban indoor smoking in 2003. The city has also, on his watch, forced restaurants to post health inspection ratings and calorie counts, and banned them from serving food with trans fats. 

"All of them were seen as government overreach when they were put into place, and now New Yorkers can't imagine when things were otherwise," Farley said.

I have absolutely no opinion about this. I'd like to hear more about how, and why, this will be effective.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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